Wednesday, March 15, 2006


$3 for the Bathroom and $2 for the lights

The airline industry has been in a tailspin for the better part of this decade (some could claim the entire global industry has never been properly managed) and are now grasping at anything to make a dollar. Most airlines now charge for pre-assigned seats (somewhat reasonable), munchies (fair), headphones (ok) and sleep kits (check). Now comes word that Northwest Airlines are going to introduce a new fee schedule for aisle seating. The extra inches will now be at a premium, literally.

As of Tuesday, Northwest began charging $15 to reserve coach seats with extra legroom. The USA's No. 4 carrier, operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since September, hopes to generate much-needed revenue through its new "Coach Choice." I would suggest a better name would "Tall Tax."

Under the program, customers can reserve exit-row seats and designated aisle seats up front in economy class by paying extra. Depending on the aircraft, exit-row seats provide about a dozen inches of extra leg room. Designated aisle seats allow a passenger to unfold into the aisle and to depart more quickly.

This move also comes at time when it has been noted in several publications that the airlines have been reducing the sit space over the past decade and that is a serious risk to public health.

A 2001 report from British House of Lords Science and Technology Committee actually recommended airline passengers be given more, not less, seating space to combat deep vein thrombosis, or "economy class syndrome."

FYI - The United Kingdom is the only country that requires minimum spacing between aircraft seats — 26 inches (66 cm) between the seat backs of each row.

Northwest will, however, continue its practice of setting aside seats near the front of coach cabins at no additional cost for high-mileage members of its frequent-flier program. Elite-status frequent fliers who in the past booked too late to snag one of those up-front seats now can go online starting 36 hours before departure to reserve Coach Choice seats. Other travelers can begin reserving those 24 hours before departure.

Previous experiments in trying to get travelers to pay a premium for more comfortable seating have mostly failed. No. 1 American, for example, began dismantling its "More Room Throughout Coach" experiment in 2003 after only two years. Consumers loved the extra five inches or so of legroom, but management determined they were unwilling to pay even a few dollars more for it.

The decision by Northwest will not sit well with at least one group - The Tall Club International. The Tall Club of Silicon Valley has sued a dozen U.S. airlines including American and Southwest on behalf of all Californians 6' 2" and up. The club did not ask for money, only seating accommodations, arguing the conventional seating causes health problems. In 2003, the case was dismissed following a recommendation from the Department of Transportation, stating "A new seating rule would conflict with the aviation regulatory scheme." On appeal in 2004, the dismissal was upheld. Tall Club's attorney Tom Cohen (6' 6") pithisized, "So tall people will remain squished."

Yes, there are Tall Clubs around the world. Yes, they have a Miss Tall International. No, silly, it isn't a stereotypical beauty pageant. Yes, they offer scholarships ($1000 US) for tall students under 21 attending college or university for the first time. My favourite however is the tall personals - read dating site. Their slogan should be "love is in the air, it is just really high up." It is better than their "where size does matter."

There are rumours that many US carriers are examining, and I am not joking, charging extra for every piece of luggage that you bring on your travels. The only person who will laugh at this notion is Bill Cosby.

It will not surprise me to see airlines, in the future, charge for window seats because they offer "a view." I wonder if a passenger will pay more for sitting closer to the bathroom. To the front of the plane? Or, could get a discount for having to sit next to a parent with the bassinette? Maybe have that same parent pay extra for the bassinette.

What is interesting is that this is all happening at a time when North Americans, especially Americans, are getting considerably larger. In fact, there have been numerous lawsuits and complaints against airlines over weight discrimination. Stay tuned.

Read full story here.

There is also the possibility of charging people per pound, ie: your ticket costs twice as much if you weigh 400 lbs..wouldn't really suprise me.
The whole airline managment thing is really annoying- a ticket from Hali to Toronto is normally about 119$- in the last two days the prices have been no lower than 200$ and as high as $337 on Canjet...CANJET!!! Or you could fly the hour and a half first class on AC for a whopping $ least the drinks are free.
Soon they will be charging for everything on airplanes- I wouldn't be surpised if they started to charge for bathroom visits.
Westjet makes a big deal of their seating arrangements. A couple of inches make a significant difference!

I checked the Miss Tall archives. WTF!
The airlines in the US have three types of seats:

1 - Business class - fake leather seats, fake smiles and warm drinks.

2 - Economy Plus - This is essential the same as economy on Canadian airlines, but they have reduced the space in the economy section and give you the appearance that you are getting more.

3 - Economy or "Cattle" Class - You are crammed in with every other person in the tightest, smallest space.

The whole airline industry motto should be - Airlines, where we are not happy until you are unhappy.
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