Airlines Look At Disturbing Ways To Increase Revenue
As airlines look to increase their
profits any way they can, no idea may be too far-fetched... or,
potentially demeaning. Among the ideas being bandied about by
airline CEOs include elimination of cold drink service onboard
flights, and charging passengers based on their weight.
"You listen to the airline CEOs, and nothing is beyond their
imagination," Air Transport Association spokesman David Castelveter
told Bloomberg. "They have already begun to think exotically.
Nothing is not under the microscope."
Castelveter declined to name specific measures certain airlines
may be taking... but it's not hard to imagine some extremes
carriers may go to. After all, American will soon begin charging
for all checked luggage, and US Airways recently eliminated snack
service onboard its planes. Delta Air Lines charges $25 if
passengers make their flight reservations over the phone.
Even carriers widely recognized for their customer service are
considering radical steps. Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng
recently said his airline -- which has seen its stock plummet 8.9
percent this year -- is "trying to eliminate unnecessary quantities
of extra water" to save weight. That means no more ice cubes to
cool your inflight beverage.
"When you hear some people talking about putting showers on
their planes, that strikes me as counterintuitive," he added -- a
reference to Emirates and Virgin Atlantic, two airlines that have
spoken of equipping their Airbus A380s with showers.
Consultant Robert Mann says passengers may soon be greeted at
the check-in kiosk with two sets of scales -- one for bags, the
other for passengers -- as airlines consider adopting air fares
tied to weight.
"If you look at the air-freight business, that's the way they've
always done it," he said. "We're getting treated like air freight
when we travel by airlines, anyway."
David Swierenga, president of Round Rock, TX-based consulting
firm Aeroecon, disagrees. "Laughter aside, the airlines are just in
a desperate situation," he said, adding weight-based ticket prices
are unrealistic. "The solution lies in capacity cuts," Swierenga
That's a step many airlines are already taking, idling older
planes to decrease the number of available seats -- which, in turn,
increases the value of the seats available. Carriers are exploring
a number of other ways to save fuel... from flying slower (several
airlines, including Southwest) to washing planes more frequently to
decrease wind resistance (Lufthansa) to using lighter dishes and
The idea of weighing passengers, however, is one that keeps
surfacing... though it likely poses an number of ethical questions,
as well as fair trade issues. One major airline, Southwest, already
comes close to asking passengers for their weight, by requiring
oversized passengers to purchase a second seat. A number of
short-hop carriers -- most flying cabin-class aircraft, usually
light twins -- also weigh their passengers, due to safety
Still, one airline president says his carrier is unlikely to
ever ask its passengers to step on a scale.
"That is something that when I was a check-in agent in the early
70s I used to do and it was the most horrific experience, trying to
get people to stand on scales," said Tim Clark, president of
Dubai-based Emirates. "It's not something that we would do."