It always amazes me how some industries think that if they market things a certain way, people are too stupid – or gullible – to see the truth. (Or…is it that the consultants they use look at their customers this way?)

Case in point – the airline industry. Currently, oil is trading at nearly $150 / barrel. Double what it was a year ago. Planes use fuel. So, it would be reasonable for me to expect airfares to rise across the board.

Instead, the airlines have decided that to remain “competitive”, they’ll keep airfares down by raising their fees for other things, as well as eliminating some services. Northwest announced today that they will now charge $15 for the first bag – due to rising fuel costs. Hey – guys – whether it’s you, American, or any other airline that’s decided the “first bag fee” will be a great way to offset costs – how about you just raise my ticket $15!!

When I’m traveling, the last thing I want to deal with at check in is “oh…you have a bag – whip out your credit card so we can now charge you more money”. I expect fares to go up. Thanks to TSA’s security protocols, I have no desire to drag my crap on-board anymore – I already hate taking off my shoes while smelling the socks of the dude next to me that has an aversion to showering, while waiting for the family of 300 ahead of me to collect their kids, shoes, laptop, toys, etc. and get the freakin’ hell out of my way!

So…why do they think they’re fooling me? Is this to keep the all-important business traveler who travels in & out in one day with no bag? With companies cutting back on travel costs anyway – do they think this makes a huge difference? Why not raise everybody’s fare $15, collect the money from EVERYBODY, and allow everybody to catch their damn flight instead of getting stuck at check-in with more bag charges?

Southwest has it right. They’re marketing their fares with “we don’t charge for this / that / everything else – we make it simple”. Maybe that’s part of the reason they have such customer loyalty – rather than just cheaper fares?

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