Senator Schumer and the Myth of Cheap Air Travel.
Senator Chuck Schumer is confused once again. This time, it seems he’s confusing “consumer rights” with “consumer products.”
Last month, Schumer heralded a questionable attachment to the FAA Re-Authorization Bill as the answer to the underlying causes of pilot fatigue and regional pilot levels of experience. He was wrong, but his press releases on the subject made for decent publicity for the senator.
Now Schumer weighs in on carry-on baggage and airlines, stating that the former is a passenger “right” that must be provided for free by the latter.
The consumer “right” when it comes to airlines is to choose one over the other, which has everything to do with free enterprise and the marketplace which governs the “right,” or more accurately, the product.
Spirit Airlines as a private company has both the right and the obligation to price every component of their product. And consumers have every right to choose another airline without the baggage fee, if the fee is a deal-breaker for the passenger.
That’s free enterprise. And whether Schumer admits it or not, the fee proposed by Spirit Airlines is a direct result of the Airline Deregulation Act. The marketplace, according to congress, is supposed to determine airline ticket prices. That’s why congress disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board which up until 1978 regulated airline ticket prices and routes.
My personal opinion? As with fare hikes, this may be a trial balloon on Spirit’s part: if no other airline joins Spirit and institutes their own charge for carry-on luggage, I’d expect that the fee will go the way of most fare hikes–that is, into the garbage. Nonetheless, air travel is not nor ever has been cheap to produce and airlines continue to lose money despite any fees or fares enacted.
That would be the marketplace doing what congress directed when they enacted the law, and Schumer knows that. But he can’t resist an opportunity to grandstand, no matter how insincere it is.
Fees are irritating and costly, but airline seats simply are costly, too, and have to be paid for. This is a lesson not lost on Europeans who have a fiercely competitive airline market–and a plethora of passenger fees that clearly go hand-in-hand with low fares. Check below for the schedule of “nickel-dime” fees, to use Schumer’s term, of one of the leading European discount carriers.
Meanwhile, when the basic market forces of production cost meet Schumer’s myth of cheap air travel, guess which one will win–or we will all lose the “right” of air travel to the cost of producing the luxury.
From the Ryanair website:
Ryan Air Table of Fees
|(UK Pounds/Euro or local currency equivalent)||Booked on www.ryanair.com||Booked via a Call Centre* or Airport|
|UK Pounds||Euro||UK Pounds||Euro|
|Online Check-In (not charged on some promotional fares)||£5||€5||£10||€10|
|Mastercard Prepaid Debit Card
As a special offer to the above card holders, Ryanair, for a limited period only, will not apply an administration fee
|Administration Fee – Per passenger/ Per One Way Flight This fee relates to costs associated with Ryanair’s booking system and processing payments.||£5||€5||£5||€5|
|Priority Boarding Fee* – Per passenger/ Per One Way Flight||£4||€4||£5||€5|
|Airport Boarding Card Re-issue –||n/a||n/a||£40||€40|
|Infant Fee – Per Infant/Per One Way flight (must be under 2 years for both outbound and return flight)||£20||€20||£20||€20|
|Checked Baggage Fees* – (Each passenger is permitted to check-in up to 2 bags with a maximum weight of 15kg per bag)Different rates fees apply depending on the date of travel (peak rates apply for travel in July and August)1st Bag – 15kg allowance – per bag/ per One Way Flight||£15||€15||£35||€35|
|1st Bag – Peak Rate July/August||£20||€20||£40||€40|
|2nd Bag – 15kg allowance – per bag/ per One Way Flight||£35||€35||£70||€70|
|2nd Bag – Peak Rate July/August||£40||€40||£80||€80|
|Excess Baggage Fee – Per Kilo
Fee can only be purchased at the airport ticket desk
|Not Available Online||Not Available Online||£20||€20|
|Infant Equipment* (car/booster/travel cot) Fee charged per Item/ Per One Way Flight (1 pushchair carried free of charge). A maximum weight of 20kg per item||£10||€10||£20||€20|
|Sports Equipment* Fee charged per Item/ Per One Way Flight A maximum weight of 20kg per item||£40||€40||£50||€50|
|Musical Instrument* Fee charged per Item/ Per One Way Flight A maximum weight of 20kg per item||£40||€40||£50||€50|
|Flight Change Fees* – Per Passenger/ Per One Way Flight||£25||€25||£55||€55|
|Name Change Fee* – Per Passenger||£100||€100||£150||€150|