There’s been some minor buzz about the customer service atrocity of hidden fees. But as with most things in our society, it’s quickly forgotten with the next thing that snaps the masses’ head another direction.
There’s hidden fee news today that may stick. American Airlines will start charging $15 for your first checked bag. Not extra luggage. Not heavy luggage. Just your one basic container with supplies that make sure you’re clothed and clean when you get wherever you’re going.
Minor nickel and diming by the airlines has been happening for a while. I flew American a few weeks ago and rolled my eyes at the ridiculous $3 charge for a bag of nuts. I understand the age of the “freebie” is over. And I can see charging a dollar. Maybe a buck and a half. But $3 is an insult to common sense. And I chose not to “ensure” the fact I would have a seat for a standby flight for $35. Also — I held it and didn’t drink the $3 bottled water instead of paying $5 for a trip to the airplane lavatory. (Don’t laugh. It may happen.)
I had said in my post about my flight during American’s last PR disaster, that the airlines have beat their customers into accepting any level of bad service. American is trying to lower the bar again. While I understand that these are rough times for the airlines, there are other ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. When times get rough (in any business), don’t cut costs where it touches the customer. Or if you really do need the extra $15 to get my underwear there with me, just raise the price of the ticket. Don’t try to hamstring me with a fee.
Fortunately for me, 95% of my flights are one-nighters where I go the night before and fly back immediately after my speaking engagement. I’ve become a semi-master at the art of packing a suit and toiletries in my laptop bag. For 2-day stays, I have to take another bag, but it’s a small one and I check it at the gate.
And that’s one of the ripple effects that this American move will have. More people trying to do just carry-ons. That means longer delays getting on/off the plane. Less room in the overheads. And longer lines at security. (Government Propaganda Tip — 3-1-1!)
I predict there will be one of two reactions to this move by American.
- Consumers will balk and American will back down.
- All other airlines will follow their lead and baggage will be extra for everyone.
I hope it’s #1. It will probably be #2.