This week I’m enjoying a fabulous European vacation, including a cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox. To fill in the blanks between vacation posts, I’m reposting some of the most widely read content from MJ on Travel. Today, it’s time to take another look at the airlines’ appetite for “ancillary revenue.”
I’m rarely in unanimous agreement with Chris Elliott’s take on the airlines. That said, I think his piece on the airlines’ hunt for ancillary revenue is close to spot on. Except at the end where the word “re-regulation” appears, which is a bandwagon I’m never gonna board.
I don’t mind paying extra for something that truly is a value-added service. Like Elliott, I think that many of the new buy on board food options and internet meet this threshold. I’m also a fan of Southwest’s Early Bird Checkin product. Heck, I don’t even mind the pillow/blanket packages, and certainly not the confirmed flight change fee American recently rolled out.
On the other hand, I know you’ve heard me preach on the sin of paying a fee for the first checked bag. I’m sorry, but one bag is an inherent part of travel and I continue to believe that JetBlue’s policy of including one checked bag as part of the fare is the right one for not just JetBlue, but the entire airline industry. The other airlines, except Southwest (2 bags for free), obviously do not agree with my opinion. And don’t even get me started on charging a fee to purchase a ticket from a person, which I maintain is the silliest idea in the history of mankind. Even worse than the first checked bag fee.
In summary, I remain unopposed to the concept of unbundling in principal as long as the service that is now being “charged for” can legitimately be considered a “plus up” to the travel experience. Unfortunately, far too many airlines have fallen all over themselves in charging for any and everything they can think of in an attempt to return to profitability. And for those airlines, I have a question: How’s that workin’ out for ya’?