Monday, August 04, 2008

Bag Karma

Rand Simberg reports on a mis-adventure had by his baggage on a non-stop flight on American Airlines over this past weekend.

In a case of what I'm calling "Bag Karma" I had the same thing happen to me on a business trip the week before last. It was the first time I had flown on US Airways since they instituted the $15 bag check fee. On the return trip from Washington Dulles to Phoenix the bag check agent put the wrong label on my suitcase, even as she was verifying my name, destination and checking my ID. She handed me my claim check (which I still have) and promptly put another passenger's baggage label on my bag. I got home on time but my bag went to Daytona Beach via Clearwater/Tampa. What it cost them to get my bag back to me by flying it to PHX via Charlotte and then deliver it to my door has to have cost them far in excess of what they collected on the fee.

The airlines could probably go a long way towards solving their profitability problems by just getting their act together on baggage handling. If they route correctly in the first place and take a few extra minutes to do so, if that's what it takes, then they won't be inadvertently running a costly, free cargo service on the side, with all the extra fuel that burns and employee time spent running around tracking errant bags.

As if the baggage problems weren't enough; In further silliness, as of this weekend US Airways is charging for non-alcoholic drinks on its flights as well ($2 for a bottle of water). They're justifying it on the basis of fuel cost for the weight of drinks they have to carry aloft. This is going to backfire on them too. I'm flying on business again next week and I'll bring my own water bottle on board ($1.49), thank you very much. Now they will carry the weight of the water bottle they want to sell me plus the weight of the bottle I'm going to bring and they won't get the revenue. Someone is focusing on the trees and completely missing the forest.

I'm getting very tired of being nickeled and dimed at every turn by the airlines, with the notable and welcome exception being Southwest. Charge a ticket price sufficient to cover the cost of getting an adequately hydrated me and my baggage to my destination on time and I promise, I won't be complaining.
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