State of the Airlines

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

NEWS: America West's Unconventional Revenue Search?

Doug Parker, CEO for America West, revealed to the Arizona Republic that the airline recently considered charging for checked baggage...and not just oversize or overweight bags...ANY bags. The airline looked quite seriously at charging $5 per checked bag implying that only thing that ultimately stopped the plan was the difficulty to implement it. Parker admits that the carrier expected backlash from its customers but firmly states that "We have to be creative and figure out ways to generate enough revenue to cover the costs of running the business."

I agree, in principal, but this is one of the more half baked ideas I have heard from an airline. Ideas like this are born out of the incredible difficulty airlines have addressing increased costs directly via fare increases. There is no doubt that the airlines need to generate more revenue to cover their fuel price inflated costs. Furthermore, airlines need to come to grips with the fact that fuel prices will likely stay at this level for the foreseeable future. They need permanent solutions. Charging for normal checked baggage is not and should never be part of the on Read More! for my reasoning.

Has anyone who backed this idea been on an aircraft lately? Have they seen the folks who attempt to cram all manner of bags underneath seats and into overheads? Did they even think about how much worse that situation would get?

Did anyone consider how the family of four who booked a 7 day, six night Mexico vacation package through the America West Vacations website are going to feel about getting nicked an additional $5 a bag? A little mental math tells me I'm out $20-$25 bucks before my toes every hit the sand. I'd be more than a little upset. I think your flight crews will tell you its not a great idea to upset the passengers before they even get to the aircraft.

I've got no issues with charging for food, beverages or inflight entertainment. Those are all costs that I can mitigate by bringing my own stuff.

I understand that airlines need to charge for overweight or excess baggage. Too much baggage can equal too much weight which means either people of baggage need to come off the aircraft because heavy aircraft don't like to fly which ultimately increases handling costs for the airline. That's fine...I get it.

However, when I buy a ticket I DO NOT expect to pay extra to get my normal everyday baggage to come with me. If my baggage does not meet the FAA mandated carry on requirements then I have to check it and someone at America West thinks that would be a good revenue stream!?!? What's toilets on the aircraft?

Its not like the airline is going to be surprised by me bringing a certain amount of luggage. On the contrary, when the airline takes my money the FAA tells them they must make a standard weight allowance for my luggage. So if I play by the rules and stay inside that weight allowance then I don't think the airline should charge me for it, checked or not.