In its seemingly unending quest to tick off as many of its customers as often as possible, the airline industry has added another chapter: Spirit Air announced it will charge passengers for CARRY-ON bags. You get the first one on board for free, assuming it fits under the seat in front of you. The fee for the second will be as high as $45 if you just show up with it at the airport with your rolling bag thinking you can walk on the plane with it. The price is cheaper ($30) if you register it online or call ahead. The airline’s explanation is simple: Bring less. Pay less. Deal with it.
This is either brilliantly counterintuitive or flat out infuriating. Me, I’m with Spirit on this one. You? Here’s why. Boarding an airliner today is no more difficult than trying to get to a seat on a crowded bus while a moving company simultaneously carts the contents of three apartment buildings through the same space. By trying to beat the current charges for checking their bags, people lug ridiculously large bags on board. Seemingly this works for the airlines because they need fewer personnel to handle (or lose) bags.
The carry-on-everything approach sure doesn’t work for me. It’s infuriating: the overhead space often gets used up before you get to your seat, meaning that you’ve got to rush the gateway as soon as the flight is called to make sure you grab some. It’s dangerous: you risk getting whacked by stuff being dragged past you by frazzled travelers or getting beaned when the overloaded overhead bins are opened. It’s slow: how often have you waited as the last couple of passengers to board play seek-and-hide with their carry-ons. Don’t you want to just throw them off the jet? Don’t you hate it when it’s you?
By charging passengers for bringing second and third bags on board, Spirit will discourage the human camels. And that’s great. It will make the flight just a little less aggravating. But it’s also a defacto fare increase, since there are very few passengers who can travel with one bag, be it carry-on or not. Even minimalist pros generally need one bag for their work/laptops, one for clothing. Leisure travelers tend to bring way too much—particularly on their way back from vacations. Adults traveling with children are pack animals—they carry everything. They have to be to keep the kiddies moving, happy, and not otherwise wailing in aisle 8. So we’re all going to have to pay up. “The real question is will other airlines follow, and will this actually be good for air travel?” asks George Hobica, president of the website Airfarewatchdog. “Planes will load faster if people don’t bring carry-ons on board. The other question, says Hobica, is “when will more shoes drop?” Surely, pay toilets are on the horizon— credit cards accepted.