Friday, June 18, 2010

Airline Fees of the Future! Hint: They Ain't Gonna Be Pretty

Just when you thought, or at least I thought, the airlines wouldn't be able to come up with another annoying fee, news comes yesterday that American Airlines would be charging $9 to $19 to passengers to get onto the plane early in the boarding process. Not first mind you--that privilege is still reserved for first class folks and elite flyers--but early enough for them to place their carry-on wherever they darn please in economy. And have the pleasure of smirking at the later passengers as they struggle aboard, desperately looking for a free space in which to store their stuff. (It's not exactly a new move: Southwest, an airline with no assigned seats, allows passengers to head to the front of the line for $10. Ryanair and US Airways have similar priority boarding fees.)

I gotta hand it to the airline execs. Thinking up all these new fees can't be easy. Since I'm a generous person, I thought I'd hand these overworked Einsteins a couple more they might try springing on the public:
  • A fee to get off the plane: Seat belts will no longer be controlled by passengers. Instead, they'll go into lock down as the plane begins its descent and passengers will have to swipe their credit cards to get off. Have a business meeting to get to? A reasonable $35 fee will ensure you're first off the plane. A more frugal traveler? Those who wait 5 minutes pay just $20 to debark. Unwilling to pay at all for the privilege of freeing yourself from the seat? You'll be ejected down a special chute and come out on the luggage belt. Smile: a picture of you barreling down the belt is being posted to your Facebook account!
  • Noise fines: Are you a snorer? Did you make the mistake of not drugging your baby before bringing him aboard and allowing him to cry? Are those noise-cancelling earphones leaking Lady Gaga into the aisle? Not allowed. In an effort to make flying pleasant for everyone, the airline has installed sound detectors in the arm of your seat. It automatically adds a charge of $10 to your credit card for every unexpected noise you emit. Whoops! Did you drool in your sleep? Sorry, that'll be a $20 fine--offending your seat mate's sensibilities carries even stiffer penalties.
  • A fee to use the seat back pocket in front of you (or read the magazine): Thanks to the  advances made in mini-bar technology, the airlines now have the ability to charge you should anything in your seat back pocket be shifted. Placing your belongings in the seat back pocket will incur a fee of $7.50, reading the magazine will be $3 (a $1 rebate if someone's already done the Sudoku). Oh no! Your leg accidentally brushed against the seat back pocket? Terribly sorry, you'll have to contact customer service to get that charge removed.
  • A fee to bring to place carry-on bags in the overhead rack.....Oh silly me! The geniuses at Spirit Airlines have already thought of that one.
So much for the "friendly skies".

(Photo by Luis Argerich)


  1. so sad to realize that what u propose tongue in cheek could be in our future.

  2. Oh dear, don't give them any ideas! You know they'll try the fee to deplane first.....and some folks will pay it!
    Mary Ann