27 May 2012

United Airlines and the opposite of sense

on a recent trip to nyc, i elected to pay $25 to check my first bag, for each leg. i rightly guessed that by the time i boarded, there would be no overhead space left.

on the return, United announced at the gate that the flight was full, and rollerboards would be gate-checked for free. naturally, i do not expect to be refunded my $25. why should i, when my pre-planning helps them to load the plane more quickly and have a better chance at on-time takeoff.

does it not make more sense to charge people for carry-ons, and grant free checking of the first 2 bags? am i correct in thinking that incenting people to reduce what they carry on, rather than incenting them to increase it, will save money? am i correct in thinking that granting passengers that much extra space, and doing away with at least some of the fighting for shared space, will improve the experience for everyone involved?

is the cost of baggage handling really so prohibitive?

what am i missing?


pyker said...

I'm stumped as well. I guess the bottom line is that they're trying to extract as much money as possible. Fair enough, but, like you, I'm not convinced charging only for checked bags and not carryons makes sense.

Maybe add charges based on total weight of passengers + bags, plus volume of bags?

Incentivizing people to get away with as much as they can in terms of carryon luggage seems to make everything worse.

JustJoeP said...

I like Ron's suggestion, BUT, Americans (and vacationing Germans) are an enormous lot, and the airline would likely lose money.

Southwest has the best baggage policy. First bag flies free. The over-heads are NEARLY empty, AND, SW LOADS a plane twice as fast an ANY of their competitors. SW understands that they make money by having planes in the air, moving passengers, to their destinations. Not by byzantine rules of you-load-first, they-load-second, one carry on and one personal item only, "if the over head is closed that means it is full", "roller bags need to go in wheels first". SW pretty much dominates whatever market they are in - that is why they merged with ATA and are moving their HQ from Dallas to Atlanta, to challenge goliath Delta.

United is pathetic all around. Dr Desert Flower recently took them both domestically and internationally, and their loading & unloading were poor, customer service surly, over-heads over-stuffed, and flights exceedingly late for mechanical problems. I try to never fly United anymore, as they've slipped from mediocre to piss-poir.

zim said...

yes, i hated United. except when i fly with my boss, who has status. then i'm treated like a human.

United recently obfuscated their seating procedure for coach. now, if you want to reserve a seat, you must pay to go into Economy Plus, which is some $35-40 upcharge, at least between Chicago and New York. if you elect not to do this, United will assign you a middle seat sometime on the day of the flight, probably in the last couple rows. and put you in boarding group 27, which guarantees you no overhead space whatsoever by the time you board.

for reasons i cannot discern, on my return the other day, United upgraded me to a middle seat in Economy Plus. i will confess the added legroom was nice, though there was still no overhead space by the time my group 5 boarded.

"we will be checking all rollerboards at the gate," they announced. except, apparently, the ones that used up all the overhead space.

Rick said...

I suspect Ron's pay-by-weight idea has been shot down by company lawyers who'd fear an equal-protection challenge.

When I travel for business, I must check my bags. Because I'm usually traveling in order to be on-camera, I have to pack hair product and makeup supplies that won't make it through the carryon screening. If I'm bringing my own camera with me, I run into overhead-bin problems, but I've always had good luck with flight crews: "Erm, this bag has ten grand of camera equipment in it -- any suggestions?" Only once have I had to fly with the camera itself (the bulk of the value) in my lap -- typically they stash it with their personal stuff.