As the coronavirus continues to spread, many in the world are wringing their hands in anxiety.
At least one group, however, is rubbing its hands in glee:
Says one article:
“United Airlines is facing the impact of suspending its 12 daily flights to China due to steep traffic declines from the coronavirus outbreak.”
I’m sure this is true – United’s flights to China were revenue generators, and that revenue stream has dried up for now.
But instead of taking the hit as a cost of doing business – a temporary cost of doing business – United came up with this solution:
United is raising its checked baggage fee by $5, to $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second.
I can just hear the conversation in United’s boardroom, as The Powers That Be were sitting around thinking about their next way to gouge us passengers:
Power #1: I’m pissed off about the lost China revenue. That virus thing – what a nuisance. Suggestions?
Power #2: How about a new fee?
Power #3: Well, we’re already charging for carryon bags, checked bags, oversize bags, the bags under your eyes, snacks, drinks, priority seating, priority boarding, seat selection, ticket booking/ changes/cancellations, Wi-Fi, traveling with pets, traveling without pets, runway fees, take-off fees, landing fees, segment fees, and fee fees…
Power #2: OK, instead of a new fee, how about we just raise a current fee?
Powers #1: Here, here! I like the way you think! We’ll go with checked bags – that’s a guaranteed revenue stream. Let’s see (shuffling papers) …Yeah, it says here in 2018, our checked baggage revenue was $888.7 million. So how much do we raise it?
Power #3: Um…I’m a tad concerned about raising any fees right now. It will look like we’re sticking it to passengers because we’re losing money on the China flights.
Power #2: And…your point is?
Power #1: OK, then – we’re agreed. Let’s raise it $5 per bag. I like nice, round numbers.
Power #3: May I ask…once the coronavirus has run its course, will we lower the checked bag fee by $5?
Online articles are predicting that Delta and American will also raise their checked baggage fees.
No coincidence – Delta and American were also flying to China.
But take note – United just announced a clever way to distract us from the flap about fees:
Apparently United has something they call a “rotating selection of complimentary snacks.” Biscoff cookies were part of that rotation, but now Biscoffs are out and Oreo Thins are in:
“Our complimentary snack options continue to be a hit and we’re always looking for opportunities to introduce new selections,” a spokesperson for the airline said. “We plan to add Oreo Thins into the mix soon and look forward to the response from our customers.”
United didn’t have to wait long for a response:
The United spokesperson hastened to assure the disgruntled that their beloved Biscoffs would eventually resume their place in the rotation selection.
But as for lowering those raised baggage fees after airlines resume flights to China?
And missing the opportunity to make money off others’ misery?