London Update: Airlines Nickle and Dime Travelers to Death


Image: Orphaned.

Already, I know which airline I plan to avoid for my flight across the pond to London: US Air. I just learned that, as of 1 August, US Air is instituting a $2 charge for all drinks on all domestic flights — another way to nickle and dime their passengers to death, apparently.


No, this won’t affect me because I will be traveling on an international flight and no, I am not talking about alcoholic beverages, which already cost $7 or more, I am talking about non-alcoholic beverages; juices, soda, coffee and bottled water! Worse, since we cannot carry liquids through security, we are totally at the mercy of US Air. This, in addition to all the other costs associated with air travel, such as fees for all checked baggage (I plan to carry on a backpack with some clothes, and briefcase containing my laptop, so I will avoid this charge, whew), inflight food (I plan to carry some snacks with me), as well as fees for choosing your own seat (I can’t get away from this fee: try being crammed into the middle seat when you are six feet tall!), using curbside check-in (not me!), and the privilege of using frequent flier miles.
On one hand, I can appreciate airlines charging for items like food, which passengers can carry onto the plane themselves, or can do without (especially on short flights), but charging for water is downright mean since we cannot bring our own water onto the plane due to security restrictions, and everyone knows that air travel is very dehydrating. And besides, who knows if their plane will be stuck on the tarmac for hours?
Because airlines are filled with mindless conformists, I’ll bet most other airlines will also institute such charges within a month or two, so soon, all travelers on all airlines regardless of where they are going will be held hostage by a variety of petty nickle and dime charges. Oh joy.
Which makes me wonder what else can airlines charge us for? Hrm .. how about pay toilets?? $2 per piss, $5 per dump?

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to London Update: Airlines Nickle and Dime Travelers to Death

  1. Joe Shelby says:

    you can carry liquids on a plane – you can’t take liquids through the security checkpoints.
    this means that anything you buy in the travel/news shops in the airport itself (once past security) you can bring with you – so shell out $2-$3 for a large bottle of water before you get on the plane rather than $2 for the tiny thing they’ll have on offer.

  2. Julie Stahlhut says:

    USAirways is the pits. I had the (non)pleasure of flying that airline to a conference in Greece, and back, last week.
    They made a big deal out of not charging us for headsets because the flights (both ways) were late. The lateness was not the airline’s fault — but who else charges for headsets on a transatlantic flight?
    Hot meals both ways included things that were stored on the hot tray but were never meant to be heated. Eastbound: Chocolate. (I had to soak mine in ice water to be able to eat it.) Westbound: Butter and cheese. I’m sure there were a lot of ruined clothes around when people tried to peel the foil or cellophane off of these items without realizing that a tablespoon or so of grease would immediately splash out.
    Breakfast eastbound: One tiny, ice-cold sweet roll. (Sheesh, they should have put it on the hot tray with the chocolate and the butter.) There were a lot of very hungry, angry people deplaning at the Athens airport.
    Baggage check: Too disorganized for me to go into every detail, especially eastbound. Suffice it to say that I tried very hard to follow the guidelines about carry-on and checked baggage, but still wound up having to haul three pieces onto the plane myself. I still have the bruise where the bag they refused to check squashed my forearm while I was trying to wrestle it into an overhead bin.
    The price for this fiasco: $1566. Hey, USAirways, be a sport. Charge me $1571 and just give me the headphones. Or even another ten bucks so you can serve me some real food when I’ve been waiting for seven hours without anything to eat. How in the hell is a consumer supposed to consider it “good value” to pay $5 less for a ticket but be annoyed repeatedly to pay for basic services?
    If I have to make another transatlantic flight in the near future, I think I’d pay a few hundred dollars more just to avoid USAirways.

  3. bill says:

    Bring an empty water bottle with you through security, and then fill it before you get on the plane.

  4. excellent idea, bill! that is indeed what i will do. (i am so glad that drinking fountains are still free.)

  5. John says:

    Air travel is terrible all around. It’s like they’re trying hard to keep customers away. I’m just glad I don’t have to fly much.

  6. Ahcuah says:

    You know, it’s clear that the airlines costs are skyrocketing, due to the price of fuel.
    But instead of just raising the real fare to pay for the fuel, which I think we’d all understand, they instead use these devious methods that do nothing but piss off the customers.
    What is wrong with these folks?

  7. Scott Belyea says:

    But instead of just raising the real fare to pay for the fuel, which I think we’d all understand, they instead use these devious methods that do nothing but piss off the customers.
    What is wrong with these folks?

    Have you expressed your concerns directly to an airline or two? The answer I got was that anyone who just raises the basic fare regrets it … too many people make a decision on the basic fare, and if you’re higher there, you may well lose out on that first impression.
    Illogical? Sure … but that apparently is (more or less) reality …

  8. themadlolscientist says:

    I’ve flown to England twice, first on British Air and the next year on Useless Air. BA was about as good as a long-distance coach-class flight can get, including free drinks of all kinds and really good food. Useless Air was about as cheesy as it could get, as expected.
    I lived in Pittsburgh (home of Useless Air, formerly Allegheny “Allegoony” Airlines) for several years, and it’s always been cheesy. I never fly with them unless I have no choice.

  9. sea creature says:

    Yes, bring your own water bottle or buy a large bottle after security. Two bottles are better since flying is dehydrating. Even when I fly Continental, the only carrier I know of that still feeds you I pack sandwiches because airline meals are too small for me. Try to fly non-US carriers when you can (though the food on LOT ranged from ho-hum to bad the last time I went to Poland).
    I do understand the business of tacking on other charges rather than raising the fare because the truth is most folks sort the results they get when they search for flights by price. Plus if it was just a matter of the airlines raising the fare the only alternative would be to not fly – you couldn’t opt out of some costs by not checking bags or bringing your own drinks.
    That said, I sometime wonder if we have gotten too used to cheap flights in the same way as we have gotten used to cheap subsidized gasoline in the US. When I first moved across the country from my family in late 80s a round trip ticket to visit family cost between $300-400. Twenty years later I can still get tickets for the same amount, except at holidays. This means I am actually paying less in real dollars. Even upon factoring in the cost of checking a bag and a two dollar soda, in real dollars I am paying less. It is starting to make sense to me that service is getting crappier.
    I wish I knew what the solution was. I do believe that we Americans make a lot of bad decisions due to our cheap subsidized gasoline, yet at the same time I know a lot of Americans are suffering with the rising price at the pump.