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Extra Leg Room, Checked Bags and Now ... Pretzels?

Scott Vogel

From the Dept of How Much Stranger Can Air Travel Get? comes word that not only can't you fly for peanuts anymore, you can't even get peanuts on a flight. Not if your airline is US Airways, that is.

In a cost-cutting measure that may well save the airline less money than the resulting PR nightmare will cost, it appears that as of June 1 the Tempe, Ariz.-based airline will no longer offer free peanuts, pretzels or other snacks in coach on its domestic flights.

"We are doing away with the pretzels," confirmed US Airways spokesperson Valerie Wunder by phone, "but you can still purchase [snacks]." She was referring to the airline's inflight snack boxes, each of which offers an assortment of crackers, cheese, trail mix, etc. The catch? The boxes are five bucks.

"Fuel is $130 a barrel and we have to do things to mitigate the costs," said Wunder by way of explanation.

Which leads me to today's quiz, and it's a real mind bender. Can you think of anything else the airlines could possibly charge us for? Come on, people. There must be something...

By Scott Vogel |  May 30, 2008; 2:49 PM ET  | Category:  Scott Vogel
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US Airways isn't doing anything other airlines haven't already done. American Airlines stopped providing free pretzels more than a year ago.

Posted by: Virginia Traveler | May 30, 2008 3:23 PM

As for other charges...about 'seat-belts and the Oxygen mask'

For those who have rented a seat-belt please pay attention to the following safety message.

In the unlikely event of Cabin Depressurization please remember to swipe your credit card in the slot provided to release the mask.

Posted by: Cube54 | May 30, 2008 3:27 PM

Soda. Though they may feel compelled to continue providing free water due to the TSA fluids limitations (even though you can buy or refill bottles on the concourse), and the health risks of dehydration.

Also, overhead bin space, though that would be tougher to implement, logistics-wise.

Maybe they should consider selling ad space in the cabin. Even Metro has been doing more of that.

Posted by: jane | May 30, 2008 3:39 PM

Just like in the Southwest commercial - charge to open the overhead bin, the window shade up/down, the seat recline, and opening the tray table. Shoot, charge to use the restroom, the "complementary" in-flight magazines, or the attendant call button. There's lots more stuff to charge for.

Posted by: Chip | May 30, 2008 4:18 PM

How about a fee for pressurizing the air for us? Because customers always have the option of bringing their own oxygen tanks.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 4:20 PM

Jane, they already are selling ad space in the cabin - I flew USAirways to/from Tampa in March and the seatback trays, when not in the full upright position, had a big old ad plastered on them.

As far as additional charges - they could make the toilets pay-per-use. Overhead lighting? $1. Adjust that air blower thing that never can be aimed anywhere useful? $2.

They've already got bag checking covered, so how about bag retrieval. Sure, not only will you have to wait 45 minutes to see your bags finally show up on the belt, but it will be $5 to actually retrieve each one.

Seriously, I can't imagine flying anywhere, except possibly overseas, in the near future. It is just not worth the aggravation.

Posted by: 23060 | May 30, 2008 4:22 PM

Jet Blue has already gone there by making a passenger sit on the toilet through most of the flight. At least he had more leg room than in coach.

Posted by: Sasquatch | May 30, 2008 4:26 PM

Underseat flotation devices! 'Cause you *probably* won't need one, but you can pay for it if you want.

Posted by: h3 | May 30, 2008 4:52 PM

I can see them charging extra for:

1) pillows or blankets

2) the in-flight magazine (NOT the catalog)

3) being able to sit in a section of the plane that even gets food and drink service, whether what you're getting is free or at cost

Posted by: Andy | May 30, 2008 5:34 PM

Charge for use of the toilets. Designate one toilet for men's urination only because TP is not needed in there and require that you put $1 in a slot to gain access to the urinal. Designate some other toilets for the "other purpose" and for ladies' usage and charge $2 due to the need for extra consumables (i.e., TP). Then locate the hand-washing sinks elsewhere and charge an extra 50¢ because the water weighs down the aircraft (I shudder at the thought of the germy planes due to people not washing their hands, but I guess we probably have that already).

Change the pricing scheme to make the last row on the aircraft the cheapest, with the price increasing as you go forwards, and make boarding go from front to rear (thus, the people paying more get on first and get off first....getting on first matters because then the schlubs in the back can't try to steal the overhead lockers at the front).

Charge passengers who weigh more than a certain amount because their added bulk increases fuel consumption. Have a scale at the gate or something and weigh people (fully clothed, of course, because clothing is part of the weight you bring on board).

Posted by: Rich | May 30, 2008 7:02 PM

Rich, you've hit the nail on the head with your last comment. I would be very surprised if the airlines didn't institute a fat tax in the next year. There's already a thread on FlyerTalk about United weighing passengers "for informational purposes only" in Singapore. You can follow the logical progression from there, I'm sure.

Posted by: Liz | May 31, 2008 6:20 PM

Also, frequent flier miles. Want to get 100% credit? Pay a fee. I think mileage programs will be the next casualty of $135 oil, so I cashed some of mine out and am going to Laos this winter :D

Posted by: Liz | May 31, 2008 6:31 PM

Actually, Continental still gives out food. On flights from Houston to DC, they give out mini-meals: a tiny sandwich, baby carrots, cookie- but hey, it's better than nothing.

Posted by: surlychick | May 31, 2008 10:26 PM

I am just trying to ask a question on Niagara Falls on your website. How can I do this????

Posted by: Sharon | June 1, 2008 4:54 PM

Sharon, I used to live up that way. What did you need to know?

Posted by: Liz | June 2, 2008 9:45 AM

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