Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Flawed Premise

A recent CNN article asserts that the airlines will continue raising fees until the customers start to revolt. “Airline Baggage Fees Top $2.5 billion” The author fails to realize that in many markets the consumer doesn’t have a choice with respect to such fees and, therefore, is coerced into paying if they want to travel. Sure, you can carry your luggage on-board, but then you have to jump through the TSA maze of how much of this and that you carry (such luxury items as deodorant and toothpaste…) and make a choice about getting a close shave while on the road (some of us don’t do well with electrics and I’d rather use sandpaper than a hotel disposable.) So what choice do we have other than to take the abuse? The agents at the ticket counter have no input (they just get to endure the wrath of the annoyed customers) and the poor flight attendants now get to play baggage handler.
Rest assured that if Southwest Airlines served my local airport they would earn the majority of my business; they don’t abuse their customers with baggage fees or gouge them with unreasonable change fees. Apparently they still value their customers while all the other airlines merely give lip service to the value they place on their customers. One day the airlines will wake up and find themselves facing certain bankruptcy, not because they have bypassed an opportunity to bilk every available dime from their customers, but because they have consumed every ounce of goodwill that they have ever generated with their customers. Several times a year I travel to areas that I can only reach by flying Delta. I recently got a Delta credit card for the sole purpose of avoiding baggage fees. A quick calculation indicates that I’ll recover many times the annual fee (free the first year) even if I travel alone.
I’m really stunned that such a large group of alleged intelligent people such as the people who manage our airline industry can be so horribly short-sighted to believe that there will be no consequences for their abusive behavior. If they are that inept then their collective boards of directors must even be worse.