AIRLINE INNOVATIONS

For those of you who, like me, travel a lot on airplanes, there is good news: Airline executives have become much more innovative in the past year!

For those of you who, like me, travel a lot on airplanes, there is 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.

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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 number one 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 air 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 Air, for example, made 855 flights on a plane that did not even meet the company’s own rules for engine maintenance. Likewise, United made more than 200 trips on a plane that was not 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.

“Fees fatten airlines revenues by $.8B,” USA Today, September 25, 2009.

“F.A.A. Proposes Fines for Two Airlines,” The New York Times,” October 15, 2009.

“Stuck at airport? Problem’s getting worse, study says,” Austin American Statesman,” October 10, 2009.

“Airlines want more fees for the holidays,” www.chicagotribune.com, September 26, 2009.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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