Today, American Airlines announced a new policy. A policy that will single-handedly bankrupt the airlines. A policy so bad, so stupid, that they will not only lose customers, but that will also cause more security-line logjams and problems when boarding the plane.
Before I dwell on the negative, I just want to say that American started the day on a positive note. I got an e-mail from them this morning saying that they were starting a new service to Moscow. Apparently all American flights, whether they’re domestic or international, now must go through Moscow. My standard 2.5-hour flight home to Richmond will now take 32 hours, but at least I get to see the Kremlin.
No, seriously, American is starting a service to Moscow, and they were advertising really cheap fares in the e-mail. I’ve never had much interest in going to Russia, but it could be cool, so I checked out the prices from St. Louis. They’re crazy high, like $1300 a ticket. So I won’t be stacking Russian dolls any time soon.
Back to the policy, as announced here. Beginning on June 15, American will be charging $15 for your first checked bag and $25 for your second checked bag. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute. In a time when gas prices are increasing plane fares, American is increasing the cost even more if you want to actually bring stuff with you and responsibly stow it under the plane.
Why is that responsible? Because you’re not lugging your suitcase onto the plane and shoving it into the overhead bin. There’s always that guy who jams his suitcase up there while people shuffle their feet behind him, cursing under that breath. You’ve seen that guy. Now you’re going to be that guy.
Plus, now you can’t stow your normal-size toiletries in your checked bag (okay, you can, but who wants to pay the fee?) Sure, the mini-toiletry industry will flourish, but the rest of us will suffer. And a lot of people are just going to forget. I bet those security guards at airports walk home with gobs of free shampoo and toothpaste.
Last, I predict that American will simply lose customers from this. Airfare is often quite close on different airlines, so if you know you might incur a $15 fee when you check in, why would you choose American if you have an alternative? I think this is the beginning of the end for American. Why can’t they all be like Southwest?
Some good news: I thought of a few good pitches for movies today. The first is Wedding Crashers in England, entitled, “British Aisles.” The second is a rom com set in an Eastern European restaurant entitled, “Czech, Please.” Yes!