The overhead compartments are valuable real estate, and these days, they go to the highest bidders.
Sandy Huffaker/NYT. Finding space onboard has become competitive as people carry more bags onto the plane.
Without rules to go along with these baggage fees, that have become so common in the past ten years, it means chaos on the plane and overload at security checkpoints.
TSA agents are swamped with the circus of suitcases, shopping bags, strollers, shoes, jackets and everything that people throw on the belt in a rush.
Perhaps we brought this upon ourselves, for not protesting sooner.
The reality is people are very easily influenced by a low-sticker ticket price. That's the only number we see until we actually pay. Then we get the bill for all the extra "services" (i.e. peanuts, lukewarm water, a fraction more legroom, baggage fees, etc.).
But it is the airlines themselves that created these demands by jamming the maximum payload of people onto an aircraft.
In the past we've written about "stand-up" flights. Instead of seats you stood, in a secure sort of way. But think of how many more people they could load a plane without the problem of legroom.
Sooner or later we'll all just be cargo.
An Industry Ripe For Creative Destruction
The airlines claim they are providing an option travelers want.
But the statements by two airline spokesmen captures the disconnect between the airline and its passengers and should be a red flag:
"It's something our customers desire," said an American Airlines spokesman, Matt Miller. Charlie Hobart, a United Airlines spokesman, said, "We're always looking for ways to make travel more convenient for our customers."
There isn't a customer in the world who DESIRES to pay for their bags to go with them, just as there's no DESIRE to pay extra fees for early boarding and overhead bin space.
The reason that the airlines are getting away with this is that they have merged away competition. This is what consolidation in the airline industry has wrought. Reduced competition, higher prices, jam-packed planes, not an extra inch of space.
We're at a fork in the road. Either we get concessions from the airlines or we have a monopoly situation.
Hold Onto Your Seatbelts. Debt Ceiling Crisis:
AIRLINE PASSENGER GROUP CALLS ON AIRLINES TO WAIVE CANCELLATION/CHANGE FEES DURING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Washington, DC. -Fri, Oct 11, 2013.
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, a large airline passenger organization with 30,000 members, called today on US airlines to immediately waive change fees and offer refunds to passengers whose trips have been cancelled due to the Federal Government shutdown.
He noted, "The unprecedented closing of all national parks, hundreds of tourist destinations and nearly all other federal facilities since September 30th has and will continue to require many thousands of travelers to cancel or postpone air travel. This Federal shutdown has become a national travel emergency. Airlines and other travel operators should not profit at the expense of passengers with high change fees and inflexible cancellation policies."
"And unless the shutdown is lifted shortly, air travelers also face a likely air travel slow down as early as next week. FAA air traffic controllers, while still on the job, are not currently being paid, and most air safety inspectors were furloughed starting October 1st."
"Without airlines taking proactive voluntary action, it will be 'Traveler Beware' time as the shutdown makes future travel planning uncertain and potentially subject to costly cancellation and change expenses."
A survey conducted this week of major airlines found that only Delta has waived the usual $200 change fee for travel impacted by the federal shutdown. US Airways, American, United, JetBlue and Allegiant airlines all advised FlyersRights.org that they would continue to impose their regular change of reservation fees (typically $200 per ticket) plus the difference in airfare for changes and would continue to deny refunds for nonrefundable tickets despite the Federal government shutdown. Southwest does not have a change fee, but does charge the fare difference for changes.
Most travel insurance policies also fail to cover trip cancellations due to the Federal shutdown, but travelers should consult with the insurance carrier and their policies for specific information and guidance.
Horror Story of the Week:
A reminder that the U.S. does not have a monopoly on fee gouging and airport screening ineptitude. JK wrote to us recently about his nightmare trip:
It all started on 8-Oct in Athens, Greece while checking in 3 pieces of luggage, expecting to pay 50 euros each, I was stunned: 222euros ($300). The worst part is that they broke a wheel off my luggage and the bags never made it with me to my arrival in DFW. Two days later they were delivered to me in
two (2) deliveries.
While going through London Heathrow 8-Oct, Security punished me for forgetting my 2oz shampoo and Amazon kindle on the carry-on and they took all my stuff out and threw it around like they found a terrorist.
On 25 Sept, when I departed DFW, no search of my carry-on was made. Also when departing Athens, again no search of my carry-on was made.
People were shouting and pleading with the security to hurry up in their search. One woman had her bras and panties spewed all over the filthy stainless steel search counter.
I kept telling them that I had just 45 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 15 minutes to get to the gate for boarding, then finally they made me and many others lose their connecting flights.
It was a short line, not even 10 meters long. I was feeling, ok, I had 1 hour and 30 minutes to departure. It was not the searching that bothered me, but that I had to wait over an hour in line begging to be searched.
It was obvious that the intentions of security was to go as slow as possible, to cause me to lose my flight by punishing me to send a message that I must never ever leave toiletries again in the carry-on unless they were in the plastic zip-lock baggy. The idiot was opening every item, cameras, cell phones, pouches, pencil case and pushing on the pen springs and turning pages in the two paperbacks I had with me. Even though the bag went through a security x-ray machine.
Items are also missing in my luggage. I am puzzled. How much more could I have been humiliated?
I simply now Refuse to ever fly British again, although I had many good experiences with them since the 90s.
Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights
FlyersRights will offer premium memberships
for a $10
monthly (or more) contribution.
This will grant you direct access to FlyersRights experts to help resolve air travel problems in real time and where necessary referral to legal assistance.
Founded by Kate Hanni in 2007, FlyersRights
is funded completely through donations and our Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, to which contributions are tax deductible.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.