Columns: Oh, those wonderful airline innovationsAUSTIN, Texas — For those of you who, like me, travel a lot on airplanes, there’s good news: Airline executives have become much more innovative in the past year! The bad news is that all of the innovation has been in dreaming up new fees to charge us customers.
By: Jim Hightower, Minuteman Media, Worthington Daily Globe
AUSTIN, Texas — For those of you who, like me, travel a lot on airplanes, there’s good news: Airline executives have become much more innovative in the past year!
The bad news is that all of the innovation has been in dreaming up new fees to charge us customers.
After eliminating tens of thousands of helpful employees, shutting down hundreds of flights in order to jam travelers into less convenient schedules, dramatically increasing the percentage of flights that arrive late, and generally going out of their way to make flying as irritating as possible, the geniuses in charge of these corporations have noticed — to their utter amazement — that they’ve had a precipitous drop in customers.
Their response? Increase the irritations.
Irritant No. 1 is the imposition of an ever-growing list of fees. With less revenue from ticket sales, airlines are making up for the loss by socking us with billions of dollars in baggage fees, seat-reservation fees, rebooking fees, using-an-airport fees, and just-for-the-hell-of-it fees. Out of the blue, for example, American, Delta, United, and US Airways recently joined together to whap their passengers with a $10 surcharge if we book flights for the days after Thanksgiving and the New Year’s holiday. Why? Well, just because. Because they can.
Meanwhile, in mid-October, federal regulators fined two airlines about $9 million for failure to maintain the safety of some of their flying machines. US Airways, for example, made 855 flights on a plane that didn’t even meet the company’s own rules for engine maintenance. Likewise, United made more than 200 trips on a plane that wasn’t in airworthy condition.
So, I’m sure we can look forward to paying a new airplane maintenance fee soon. Hey, your ticket gets you a seat, but if you want safety — that’ll cost you extra.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and winner of the 2009 winner of the Nation/Puffin Prize. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.