Friday, October 28, 2011

Pass Me That Barf Bag!

Oh my, after nickel and diming passengers with an endless levy of new “taxes” of its own on everything from checked bags to meals and now even certain seats, the airline industry’s association is suddenly “sticking up for us passengers,” using air sickness bags for a campaign to lobby passengers to oppose a user fee to in part pay for airline security.

What hypocrites!  It is nauseating enough for me to need one of those barf bags.

Apparently the airline association believes it is absurd that flyers are charged a user fee to pay for special security, but that it makes perfect sense for airlines to “tax” passengers with scores of special fees of their own, for which absolutely no additional value-added is received.

So-called “hidden taxes” on airline fares pay for airports, airline facilities, airport security, air-traffic control etc.  What’s so unfair about a user fee rather than having non-airline and non-airport users shoulder the burden?  Nothing, because it makes absolute perfect sense.

Tourism-sector industries such as many restaurants are notorious for asking customers to shoulder extra costs but then objecting when asked to carry their fair share of related public costs.  For that matter other tourism-sector industries such as hotels, sports and entertainment businesses, retail businesses and other industries need a dose of humility but none more than airlines.  The majority of these businesses seek or accept public subsidies in one way or another.

Maybe there was a time fifty or sixty years ago when some people flew for the novelty of flying, but today absolutely no one travels on an airline except as a means of transportation.  The reasons for which their “customers” use them are provided not by the airlines but by the communities/destinations that draw them including friends, relatives, businesses and visitor features to which people are drawn.

It may be a valid concern that the new fee will in part be used to reduce the federal deficit but the public has already voiced support for shared pain in that regard.  To complain that the new fee which is only applied after the fare will somehow reduce demand for air travel may be accurate in some very small degree; but it is hypocritical for the airlines to levy new fees of their own without any such concern.

Associations for visitor-related businesses often whine that their members don’t get any respect and whining about the user fees from which they so dearly benefit is one good reason why.

Ugh, pass me that barf bag again!

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