The politicians moved in pretty quickly when word spread that Spirit Airlines intended to charge for carry-on luggage, threatening legislation that would ban the practice. But they might have missed the other part of the equation. The airline intended to lower the cost of a ticket.
The people have spoken. "The Street" reports that bookings on Spirit after August 1 (when the policy goes into effect) are up 50%.
"Our customers get it," (Ben) Baldanza said. "The media says they don't like it, but if you are me, you see that the number of people who buy tickets is expanding. I think the outrage is from people who already pay high fares on other carriers. But our customers see the power of a really low fare with the option to choose what else they want."
There's a fair whiff of PR-writing in that comment, but it leads to a good question: Why shouldn't people get to decide what they'll pay for? Spirit's plan is (was?) to charge less for the ticket itself, because it charges for everything else. If a passenger doesn't want "everything else," why pay for it?
The article had a fascinating statistic. Spirit claims that eliminating most carry-on would save 5 minutes that each plane spends at the gate, allowing the airline to fly -- and make money -- for 15 more hours a day.
(h/t: Susan Leem)
I wonder how many of the passengers realize they are paying the same rate after the baggage fee is charged vs. just seeing a flight for $40 cheaper on what ever booking system they are using.
Also Spirit Airlines got quiet a bit of free media advertising out of this fee fiasco...
My suspicion is the people gravitating toward Spirit are young folks with small backbacks/luggage that fit under the seat in front of them -- that carry-on is still free.
Or they've sent stuff ahead by UPS.
Terry Trippler raised the issue of shaving 20 minutes of pre-boarding time in a Good Question I did last week.
Personally I think the airlines should charge for carrry-on, but not for checked baggage. My checked baggage poses no delay issues for the airline. Carry-on bags are extremely annoying as people try to squeeze their giant bags in the overheads, and they slow boarding times, costing airlines money.
> In terms of the operational realities of the airline industry, the charge makes perfect sense because it addresses a major problem: delays incurred when passengers search for space in overhead bins, typically to stash their roller boards. By cutting five minutes from the time each aircraft spends at the gate, Spirit could gain 15 hours of flight time each day, Baldanza said. The carrier's 29 aircraft make about a half dozen "turns" each day.
I don't think I agree with Baldaza on his police work^W^W math, there.
15 extra hours of airtime? Looks to me like each of 29 planes could gain a half-hour of flight time.
Whether that half-hour is actually *usable* seems quite another question. Fly each plane an extra half-hour farther on one trip per day?