The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Is there anything that Chuck Schumer thinks is not his business?

Excerpts from a story in the RC Journal:

Spirit Airlines says it is gaining ground in the fight against flight delays with its controversial move to charge for carry-on bags.

Since airlines started charging for checked luggage, more flyers have brought carry-on bags on board. Spirit's new fee--the first in the industry--is aimed at discouraging passengers from stuffing the overhead bins because it often takes extra time to get bags settled and gate check those that won't fit onboard.

Spirit, based in Miramar, Fla., says it does not expect to profit from carry-on fees directly. Pinson said the low-fare airline is cutting ticket prices overall, in some cases by more than enough to offset the cost of a carry-on bag. But she said that by shaving 6 or 7 minutes off the time that it takes to load and unload a plane, Spirit hopes to be able to add more flights.

Spirit will be collecting data over the next few weeks to see how the plan is working out. No hard numbers were yet available.

The idea of carry-on charges has struck some as crossing the line. New York Sen. Charles Schumer extracted a promise from five of the nation's biggest airlines, including AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc., that they won't charge for carry-on bags.


Bill Fleming said...

Why don't they just build the charge of the luggage into the ticket price? Then if you agree to fly naked with no luggage, you get a discount. It would save a lot of time in the inspection line that way too.

I'm thinking Schumer's probably wishing the airlines wouldn't "taxi cab" people, Bob. Trying to make their fares look lower than they actually are.

Kind of like the banks trying to find a way to stick you any way they can and you put up with it because you didn't want to read the small print when you opened your account and put your money in their bank. You know, like you, trusted them.

DDC said...

Bill, don't you think it's better to only pay for the services that you need and not pay for ones that you don't?

Either way, it's really not a Senator's job to tell a private business how to operate. Spirit Airlines isn't defrauding anyone and they are not a monopoly, they're simply thinking of innovative ways to save their customers money and increase their rate of on-time departures, in turn saving them money.

If people don't like paying for their carry-on luggage separately and would prefer to have it included in the ticket price, they can fly another airline. They don't need Super-Chuck to save them by threatening the airlines.

Thad Wasson said...

I enjoy the tax placed on an airline ticket for takeoff and landing. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? If you don't land, no tax?

Bill Fleming said...

DDC, how many people do you know who don't NEED to take anything with them when they fly somewhere?

But yeah, I guess it is pretty ironic that he can get the some of the airlines to stop charging folks for carry- ons, but he can't convince enough House repubs to help pay health benefits to 9/11 victims.

Of course, that's probably not his job either. He is, after all in the Senate, where tyranny of the minority runs rampant.

DDC said...


Spirit isn't barring anyone from taking anything with them when they fly. They dropped their ticket prices and began charging the people that are bringing carry-on luggage. Those customers have the option to check their luggage to avoid the carry-on fee.

Spirit Airlines is not a monopoly. Flying to the Bahamas and not paying for your carry-on luggage is not a basic human right.

So, what business is this of Chuck Schumer and what gives him the right to threaten private companies with the full force of the US Government if they decide to lower their ticket prices and only charge people for carry-on luggage that actually have carry-on luggage?

Do you honestly find that to be the proper role of the federal government? Forcing airlines to charge everyone for carry-on luggage, regardless if they actually have carry-on luggage?

Bill Fleming said...

I think you're maybe splitting hairs, DDC.

What if Spirit is a connecting flight? What if the connect time is short. Why should the passenger have to wait? So the Airline doesn't have to?

As I understand it, Congress has the power under the Commerce clause to regulate these things.

Carry-ons may not be an inalienable human right, but I'm guessing for frequent flyers, it comes pretty close. Lot's of people don't trust luggage check services and with good reason. Why should you have to pay extra to safeguard your important travel stuff?

If nothing else, it's lousy customer service.

Maybe Schumer was trying to give them a little marketing advice.

DDC said...


I will point out that passengers with a non-essential carry-on aren't paying more that they were before. If you read the article, they dropped the base price of their tickets when they instituted the carry-on fee. Now passengers simply have the option as to whether or not they want to pay extra for a carry-on, they're not "paying extra".

I'm just trying to figure out if you think this an appropriate use of government power. I'm trying to not put words into your mouth.

Schumer isn't "regulating" the airlines with legislation. He isn't offering them marketing advice (As a career politician with a law degree, what does he know about running an airline anyways?) He is using his position as a US Senator, and the inherent threat that accompanies that position, to intimidate them into operating the way that he thinks they should. Do you feel like that is appropriate?

Bill Fleming said...

What does "non-essential carry-on" mean, DDC?

On the face of it, I don't see anything wrong with Schumer — or any other senator — being a consumer advocate.

I didn't realize they were supposed to surrender that right once elected. Can you explain to us why you think they should?

DDC said...

Here's Spirit's evil policy:

For travel August 1, 2010 and beyond
(Effective for reservations purchased on or after April 6, 2010)

Fees apply for carry-on baggage that will not fit in the under seat space (max size of under seat space is 16”x14”x12”). New fees will be available for pre-purchase by July 1, 2010. All baggage fees are non-refundable and may be paid in advance or at the airport. All customers who purchased reservations prior to April 6, 2010, for travel August 1, 2010 and beyond, will be “Grandfathered” and no carry-on bag charges will apply.

Excluded items (These are also free, on top of the carry on that will fit underneath your seat)
Umbrella, Camera, Infant Diaper Bag, Assistive Devices, Outer Garments (Coats/Hats/Wraps), Car Seat/Stroller, Reading Material, Food for the flight.

As stated here:

Do you really need Chuck Schumer to protect you from that?

I'll get into the problems associated with a US Senator using his office to be a "consumer advocate" when I have more time.

Bill Fleming said...

But if you don't want to send your banjo through luggage check... you gotta pay, baby.