Thursday, July 24, 2008

How About a $100 "We'll Treat You Like a Human" Fee?

With the rising cost of fuel, the commoditization of ticket prices, and an apparent zeal to gouge every spare cent out of a passenger's pockets, the nation's (probably the world's) airlines have collectively made air travel an unpleasant experience. Frequent flyers may benefit from upgrades to a higher class of seat, assuming they're available, but pretty much everybody else must choose between the often absurd price of a "first class" or "business class" ticket or flying in the cattle car coach. Airlines don't appear inclined to lower fares for their first/business class sections, and to date the airlines offering all first class or all business class seating seem to be faltering and failing. So what's another option?

How about letting any passenger who wants pay a flat $100 (perhaps more for international flights), and treat them as if the clock has been rolled back to when air travel was more pleasant. For that money, give them a day pass to the airline's "club" lounge at the airport, the right to be screened through the expedited "first class" security line, the right to check at least one bag without an extra fee, a seat toward the front of the coach section of the plane, and a somewhat upgraded in-flight meal or snack (if they wish)? This could also be offered to frequent flyers who would otherwise qualify for a free upgrade when there's no room in first/business class, and to other flyers who want to cash in some saved miles for the privilege of being treated decently.

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