I was recently interviewed by The New York Times over my pet peeve regarding travel fees imposed by airlines and hotels. Now, Spirit Airlines has announced that it will charge a $100 fee for a carry-on bag. Conversely, other airlines are increasing their charges for checked bags which has generated billions in new revenues. There will be a $70 checked bag fee on international flights at American for some flight, for example. At one time, airlines blamed the new fees on fuel costs but that rationale fell away as the fees continued regardless of fuel costs.
Notably, we discussed these fees in my torts class in discussing the case of Andrews v. United Airlines dealing with the question of negligence by airlines in the design of overhead bins. This case occurred before airlines started charging fees that resulted in many people taking cases on the plane — resulting in delay and an increase in the number of injuries.
As I mentioned to the Times, the strategy is clearly to drop the expectations of the new generation of travelers who do not remember that bags were once considered a basic element of traveling and covered in a ticket. Allegiant Air announced this month that it will be charging up to $35 for bags. Delta will charge $75 for checking a second bag.
JetBlue, which recently shrank legroom in a disappointing reversal, will also start to impose a fee of $40 for a second bag though to it credit the airline does not charge for the first bag.
The fleecing of travelers is now out of control. With the bag fees, boarding has become a contest that makes the Roman games look tame in comparison, People crush each others bags and coats in trying to wedge huge bags into bins. Passengers who check their bags, like me, are now told that they must not use the bins for their jackets or computer bags to make room for bigger bags. You are asked to stuff these bags at your feet while the airlines are continuing to reduce the leg room in standard seats. This leaves you virtually entrapped with no ability to open a lap top or change position if you are average height for a male. After denying you any room, the airline then offers to sell you different seats with varying degrees of space: what I called the “misery index” menu now common on U.S. domestic airlines.
I am only waiting for the baggage fee charges to become uniform so that you are charged on the same airline for carrying one a bag or for checking a bag. The message is clear: put on multiple layers of clothes and go without luggage.
Source: USA Today