High fuel costs have sent the airlines scrambling to do anything to shave costs, raise rates wherever possible (e.g., charging for checked baggage) and still attract more passengers. This trend is continuing as Delta Airlines has announced that it will "offer broadband wireless Internet access on its entire domestic mainline fleet by the middle of next year." At the same time, Jet Blue has plans to "begin charging for pillow and blanket sets on flights of two hours or longer."
Generating Revenue for Struggling Airlines
Both plans will generate more revenue for struggling airlines. Delta will charge a flat fee of $9.95 on short flights (less than three hours) and $12.95 for longer flights; the fee will enable passengers "traveling with Wi-Fi enabled devices — like laptops, smartphones and hand-held devices — to access the Internet while in flight." Jet Blue will be selling the pillow and blanket sets for $7. We can expect to see more of this in the future, as airlines find ways of wringing a buck out of services that were once provided for free. What's interesting about Delta's plan is that Congress is moving to ban in-flight cell phone use (in contrast, the EU has approved in-flight cell phone use); I suppose it's only a matter of time before Congress starts worrying about people viewing pornographic web site during flights and moves to ban in-flight web access too!
No Amount of Fees Will Erase Fuel Costs
In any case, the bottom line is that no matter what the airlines do they won't be able to get around the reality of expensive jet fuel. In this new market, only those airlines that upgrade their fleet to more efficient planes and find other ways of saving fuel (less idling, more efficient routes, etc.) will be profitable. We can also expect to see more and more fliers get fed up with all the new fees and charges; hopefully, whenever possible, they will begin looking to alternatives such as videoconferencing or taking the train.
Via: ::NY Times and ::NY Times
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