At the Freddie Awards Thursday night I told the audience that we had to make some cutbacks — that I would be the emcee this year instead of Randy Petersen. But that we hadn’t gone as far as the airlines, since on my way to Seattle I had been charged for my emotional baggage.
Little did I know I was nearly prescient. Because Frontier airlines is now charge for carry on bags.
They sent out an email announcement to their members saying that this is so that they can lower their fares, and they’re pitching it as not charging customers for services they don’t use.
First, they will continue to charge a price that’s market-driven rather than rule-driven (‘lower than before’).
Second, carry on bags aren’t a service as such (the airline doesn’t do something for you).
It’s fair to say that overhead bin space is a scarce resource that ought to be rationed based on price. Of course, it has only become a scarce resource in recent years:
- As planes are full and more people are competing for a fixed amount of space
- As airlines have begun to charge for checked bags, so customers have sought to bring on as much as they can to avoid those fees.
Remember that pre-9/11 passengers were allowed two carry on bags not just one. The initial limitation down to one was imposed in order to speed up the security screening process.
Airlines have created a scarce resource and will now charge for it. Frontier may be able to get away with this if consumers don’t know to expect it (we’ll see how well the rules are displayed — especially for tickets purchased outside of Frontier’s own channels), and if they offer fares lower than those airlines which don’t charge extra.
At other carriers you can get out of checked bag fees with elite status or with co-brand credit card. in the case of Frontier elite members get the fee waived but not credit card holders.
The fee for bags that don’t fit under your seat will range from $20 to $50, depending on how early on the process between ticket purchase and appearing at the gate you pay. If you’re charged at the gate it’s $50 — a tax on people that aren’t aware of the change (although paying attention during the check-in process will price the fee at $35).
Frontier of course was acquired by a hedge fund led by the former Chairman of Spirit. So this was entirely predictable.
And Frontier’s new President is Barry Biffle.
- Barry worked under Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza
- He was at US Airways under Baldanza as well, with the Dividend Miles program.
I remember Barry as a ‘young kid’ at US Airways coming out to drinks in Crystal City with frequent flyers after an online chat at Flyertalk.com.
Barry has been Spirit’s Chief Marketing Officer, so responsible for their shocking, reprehensible, thirteen year old boy awesome ads.
(HT: uggboy on Milepoint)