When I prep for a trip, I can’t sleep and my stomach is in knots the night before I leave. I’m worried that my flight will be delayed, that I’ll get stuck in an airport somewhere or I’ll have screwed up my reservation and the name on the ticket won’t exactly match the full name on my driver’s license.
Then I get all stressed out about whether or not I can fit four days worth of clothes into a carry-on suitcase, if I’ve got the right size bottles of liquid and what category toothpaste falls into because I am going to do everything in my power not to have to pay the bag check fee.
You know that same thought is going through the heads of a lot of other people, too, especially when you watch anxious passengers corral around the gate. Everyone wants to get on the plane as soon as possible so they get a spot in the overhead bin and don’t hear the dreaded words from the flight attendant, “We’re going to have to check your bag.”
I always breathe a huge sigh of relief once I’ve gotten my bag in the bin and finally clicked my seatbelt. Then I watch in amusement as everyone else tries to stuff their bags in every which way and the looks of dismay when the latch just won’t quite close.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines have raked in more than $2.5 billion so far this year on baggage fees alone, up 22.5% since this time last year. That’s right—billion with a ‘b’. I don’t get fired up about too many things, but for some reason, this one makes me crazy.
I mean, it isn’t like they aren’t making enough money these days: Revenue from cancellation and change fees has nearly doubled since 2007, adding up to about $1.7 billion in three quarters this year (again, another ‘b’).
Maybe this is naive, but can’t they just add $10-15 on to the price of each ticket and save everyone the hassle? While they might not get the full $25 from those who pay to check their bags now, they’d get extra money from those like me who want to fight the system and do whatever it takes to carry a bag on, even if that means I have to leave my hairdryer behind. (Ok, women might find this a greater sacrifice than men, but you get my picture).
Better yet, just avoid airports as much as possible and use web conferencing or video conferencing instead. I still have to travel once or twice a year, but all my other meetings can be held using a web conference. This way, my biggest stressor is deciding if I look presentable enough to use my web cam.
How would you vote? Pay a bit more for your ticket or keep the checked bag fee?