TREATING AIRLINE PASSENGERS AS BULK CARGO

Is it still April Fools' Day? Is there not even a sliver of sanity left in the executive suites of the airline industry?

Is it still April Fools’ Day? Is there not even a sliver of sanity left in the executive suites of the airline industry?

Naturally, I’m talking about the ever-mutating, malignant spread of fees that airlines attach to our ticket prices. Check a bag, pay a fee. Get a pillow or a little bag of peanuts, pay extra. Its as though they loathe their customers and delight in tormenting them. As one aviation consultant says, admiringly, the airlines are “very creative. They’re like squirrels,” he says, “They’ll get to the bird feeder somehow.”

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Great, they view us passengers as bird feed to be raided! Now comes a nickel-and-dimer named Spirit Air with a new bit of corporate “creativity.” It intends to hit you with a fee of up to $45 to bring a piece of carry-on luggage on-board. Yes it’s your back doing the schlepping, but you’ve gotta pay this demonic spirit of an airline for schlepping privileges.

This is such a rude reach for our wallets that even the corporate-hugging Sen. Chuck Schumer has recoiled. The New York Democrat is demanding that airline regulators rule that your carry-on bags be fee-free, because that’s were people’s medicines and other necessities are stashed.

Can this festering plague of fees get worse? Yes! Check out Ryanair, an Irish company that has announced plans to sock passengers with a toilet tax. Need to pee in flight? It’ll cost you about a buck-fifty. You’d think they’re not serious, but Ryanair already asseses a fee just to check in for your flight, even if you do it online.

The pee-fee is not the end of it. Another industry consultant predicts that airlines will literally start treating us like cargo, charging us by the total weight of our bodies and our bags. Hey, instead of booking a flight, it’ll be cheaper and friendlier to ship yourself by UPS.

“Senator slams airline carry-on fee,” www.usatoday.com, April 12, 2010.

“Senator Schumer’s Press Release,” www.schumer.senate.gov, April 13, 2010.

“Airline fees: Where will they pop up next?” www.cnn.com, April 8, 2010.

“Paying to Pee: Have the Airlines Gone Too Far?” www.abcnews.com, April 13, 2010.

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

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