I recently read that a major airline is beginning to charge $8 for the use of a blanket and pillow. The passenger gets to keep the blanket. This is smart thinking and long overdue. If the airline companies would only really pay attention to similar economics of flying, they could dig their way out of a large financial hole. Here are some examples:
•At luggage check-in, every passenger would be weighed, (behind a screen) with up to 220 pounds going free. More than 220 pounds per person would cost $25 for each 30 pounds over the base. This offsets fuel costs caused by increasing the weight of the plane. It also is an incentive for healthy eating.
• Carry-on luggage, which is supposed to conform to airline industry standards for size (about 22 inches long and 9 inches wide) is being almost totally ignored. Huge suitcases are being carried on for free and stuffed in the large overhead bins above the seats, while passengers who check luggage have to pay extra. One can practically stuff a pet goat into the overhead bins and no one would care. It’s unequal and unfair.
Carry-on luggage, which causes endless delays on disembarking the plane, should carry a fee based on weight and size.
• Seat back reclining: Upright seat goes free.
Half reclining incurs a $1 charge. And full reclining, such that the passenger behind can’t use his tray table comfortably, assessed $20.
• Butt tax: An electronically programmed model airplane seat should be installed at or near check-in lines. Each prospective passenger should be required to sit in the seat to make sure his or her butt and arms don’t overlap. Overlap charge: $25 for arms and $30 for a too large posterior.
• Over-use of bathroom charge: One free use of toilet for up to six hours of flying. After the first use, one’s hand should to be stamped with an indelible marker and after that, it is $5 for each use of the bathroom.
These are only a few of many possibilities for putting the airlines back on their financial feet. I am sure the airlines can think up other practicalities.
Ira Winn is a San Luis Obispo resident and professor emeritus of urban studies and education.