Well, I think it’s coming to a head, that’s what I think. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, the business crisis facing most of the domestic U.S. airlines exceeds that of 9/11 by a country mile. Now, that’s not to excuse some of the lame-brained decision making going on in the upper echelon of your average airline these days. But it is the truth. And crises tend to bring out either the best or the worst in people and in companies.
It remains to be seen whether the all-out “unbundling” of services provided by airlines beyond a seat on the plane will be long-lasting or not. My hunch is that some of this is going to stick, and frankly, may not be the worst thing in the world. I didn’t have a big issue with the $25 dollar fee for a second checked bag, and I still don’t. I’m a little less enthusiastic about $15 dollars to check one bag, but I’ll play for now and see what happens. I’m exempt from fees for the first 2 bags as an elite frequent flier at American, and I have taken advantage of that exemption already.
But I will tell you this, just this week, I booked a trip on Southwest Airlines for only the second time ever. Why? The fare, the schedule, and the fact that I want to try them out again to see if they really are a viable option for me. It’s a short nonstop flight to Columbus (CMH) for a weekend wedding. The fare was not dirt cheap, but certainly reasonable. And best of all, if something comes up and I can’t make the trip, I can credit every penny of the fare to a future trip on Southwest, and not have my money confiscated.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be exciting as ever in the airline industry. My prediction: most of the recently announced changes stick. And if the price of oil continues its climb, coupled with a possible hurricane induced supply disruption over the summer, we could lose a major player in the industry permanently. I won’t say which one.