What Will Airlines Charge for Next? Seat Cushions?

Posted April 22, 2008 by Carl Unger

Airlineseats_4 United is the latest major U.S. carrier to add new fees, but it's hardly alone. Airlines have been boosting prices left and right over the past year or so, ostensibly to offset record fuel prices, to the point where flying is ordering from an a la carte menu.  Checking a second bag?  That will cost you.  Want a sandwich on the plane?  Better have your credit card.  Want a window seat?  Pony up the cash, brotha!

By all appearances, however, it would seem the airlines have run out of items or services for which they can tack on additional gouges (did I say gouges?).

Note I said seem  that way.

It would not be at all shocking to this industry satirist to see airlines begin charging for the most fundamental components of the flying experience.  When you think about it, charging for seat cushions, seat belts, and overhead storage would be sure-fire moneymakers for the airlines. After all, who’s going to sit through a cross-country flight without a seat cushion?

I know it may be dangerous to make these suggestions, lest a bold airline exec take them seriously, but here are some more basic services to which the airlines could attach fees:

A cover charge for physical entry onto the plane: I'm imagining a burly, sunglass-wearing club bouncer standing behind a velvet rope.  Of course, there's no band behind the airline door, no pomegranate martinis, no comfy lounge areas, and certainly no hot dating scene—okay, there's nothing particularly appealing about the inside of a plane at all.  Unless…

You pay a charge for polite treatment from flight attendants. They're generally pleasant, cheerful folks, but you have to wonder how many of them are faking it.  Who can blame them?  They deal with rude passengers, long flights, and night after night in unfamiliar hotel rooms.  They probably deserve an extra $20 to be nice to people.

Bathrooms:  The final frontier.  I feel horrible even mentioning this, as if I were releasing some deadly virus into the air, but wouldn't charging for bathroom access be the pinnacle of airline nickel-and-diming?  And with the recent reversal of a New York State passenger bill of rights, it's clear that the government doesn't exactly have our backs either.  I have to imagine this will never, ever happen.

So, what do you think the airlines can charge us for?  Add your comments below, but remember—the airlines read our blog every day (Seriously!  Don't laugh!) and they're always looking for new revenue sources.  So if you suggest charging for a personal floatation device … well, don't say I didn't warn you.

(Photo: Boeing Blogs)

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Reader Comments

I'm surprised they haven't charged people to advertise on the back of each seat. You know someone is going to be sitting there for hours on end with nothing to look at except the back of the seat in front of them.

It's a perfect branding opportunity!

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 01:35 PM by Chris

Maybe the airlines will ask us to pay $20 for an "express pass" through the security line: No shoe removal, no bag exam, no frisking. Wait a second...!

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 03:11 PM by Thomas

One of the next big things will be charging for Internet service. The airlines are rolling out the technology to provide web access, and we've already been trained by hotels to pay $10 for use of the Internet.

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 04:20 PM by cm2dr

Actually, advertising on the back of the seat isn't a bad idea. If it would be enough money keep flight prices low, I wouldn't care!

They could charge for overhead bin space...it's always at a premium.

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 04:23 PM by Kerry

The pilots certainly could hold a "smooth landing" for ransom..."So, we can make it nice & easy...or we can make it ROUGH"......

Posted on April 23, 2008 at 11:27 AM by Debra

I'd like to know which Bastard C.E.O. or V.P. is padding their special retirement package this time around? It's "extremely" unfair and irregular for them, just because fuel cost is going up. . . there's absolutely no reason for this vulgar gesture on the airlines' part to do so. Now, the biggest question here is, when are the 'Lawsuits!' gonna start "flying" this time? For those of us who have to fly to a destination other than a vacation, paying for an expensive ticket is unreasonably, "OUTRAGEGEOUS!!"

Posted on April 24, 2008 at 11:50 PM by MauiSon69

Perhaps they will begin to charge for the miniature, and I mean miniature, bags of pretzels, peanuts. Oh, don't forget the all too important half of a can of warm diet soda…

Posted on April 25, 2008 at 04:56 PM by Yvette Faulkner

I actually booked a reservation where they wanted to charge me for selecting seat assignments in advance! They say, ensure your entire party sits together by selecting (and paying) in advance!! I would be more than happy to let someone else sit next to my screaming children!! I am certainly not willing to pay to sit by them.

Posted on April 28, 2008 at 01:14 PM by Amanda Huf

Flying back from Florida on Allegiant air, I got stuck with 40 bucks for 2 bags because I didn't "prepay" them. As a disabled customer, unable to carry on, I think this is a RIP!

Posted on April 28, 2008 at 07:34 PM by Candy

Okay, some airlines already charge for food and drinks. And there is a program to pre-screen you which you can sign up for for a fee. Why not charge for just being older? It's where we're going. Reverse the time-honored tradition of giving older/handicapped people a break. Here's a few ridiculous suggestions for things they could charge for, which so far they haven't:
1) Waiting seat fee - with people having to wait at the gate longer now than ever, I can see them charging for the seat you sit in at the gate. Imagine standing for an hour or three or five, especially if you're handicapped, or have kids?
2) Pre-boarding - a separate fee to insure you get on the plan first. It would get the handicapped, but also the first class and people with kids.
3) Wheelchairs - why not? Some people have to have them, so it's an automatic revenue stream.
4) Wheelchair pushers - can't push it yourself, and instead of a tip, it's a fee. Don't expect the poor guy/gal who pushes you to get anything, either, because most people won't tip on top of the fee.
5) Electric cart - I'm surprised this isn't already being done. Again, for some it's a captive audience, such as the handicapped.
6) Departure car access - for a fee, you can bring your car to the airport door and off load. Others would have to park in the lot and drag their bags to the terminal.

For those few of us who are affluent or have expense accounts, how about a Guaranteed flight - for a fee (part of their club benefits), they would be guaranteed to fly that day. If they couldn't get you on their flights, the airlines would have agreements with others to insure you would fly out that day. The club dues would be hefty, but some would pay for the privilege.

Advertising is the best idea. And with Internet and Satellite TVs here and coming to airline seats, it's a painless and instant money maker. Everyone else is doing it, and you have a captive audience for the duration of the flight. Even if you don't use the TV's or the headphones, you wont be able to shut them off.

Hey, how 'bout a fee to shut them off?

Posted on April 30, 2008 at 12:25 PM by Ken Sultanof

Airlines should be charging frequent flyers because they have no choice (due to their jobs) the extra charges and NOT give them perks as in seat selection, bulk head, emerg. row, drinks, etc.
Also, sock it to the children flying instead of giving them a discount. A seat is a seat occupied, those kids need to pay FULL fare or stay home. Including those children flying alone, that's extra work for the airline personal to ensure they are safely placed first and last on the airplane. Charge the people who get to the airplane LATE holding up the flight because of their delay followed by not being able to find a place to stow their luggage, having to wait longer to check it in below. Strollers and child seats should be extra charges.

Posted on May 02, 2008 at 06:53 AM by Rosasbellas

Soon the airlines will pick up the new trend in some retailers to let you do your own cashiering, pay for your own ticket and serve yourself drinks, food AND pay for whatever you get while you're at it. They'll save on stewardesses labor costs and even let some passengers to pilot the plane from city to city. United has some of the worst horror stories. I have some and my sister who just flew to London has others.
WHERE ARE THE TRAINS NOW THAT WE NEED THEM!!! In Europe they have trains that run almost as fast as planes and a fraction of the costs.

Posted on May 06, 2008 at 11:43 AM by Rafael

I wouldn't mind paying for the privilege of using the lavatory if it looked a little more like this one: http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/2/0/0/1325002.jpg

Posted on May 14, 2008 at 08:25 AM by Chris

it is unfair.

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Posted on September 29, 2011 at 09:54 PM by wheelchair accessories

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