Friday, October 10, 2008

Rats, College Students, and Carry-On Luggage

What do rats, college students, and carry-on luggage have in common? Read on to find out.
As you have probably heard, many airlines are now charging you if you check ANY bags. I was on United a few days ago and had to pay $15 to check my one bag.

Obviously, the airlines put this in place to try to make some extra money, especially as fuel prices are skyrocketing. (Not that they were making money before, but that’s another story… don’t even get me started.) Right now the airline executives are probably patting themselves on the back for implementing a new way to increase revenue.

Here’s the interesting part.

Whenever you change the economics of a situation, there are always secondary consequences. For example, one college was having a problem with rats. So they came up with a "brilliant" idea. They would ask the college students to kill any rats they found, and bring them in and get a $1 reward. That way every college student is helping! Well, a few months later they had a LOT of rats turned in by students, but the rat problem was actually getting worse.

They found that college students were actually breeding more rats so they could get paid more money! Woops. There are hundreds of stories like this.

Back to the airlines. What do you think will happen when you start charging for checked bags? Well, people are going to check less bags. They still need to bring their stuff with them, and customers are not stupid. They know you can bring one bag on the plane with you and put it in the overhead bin or under your seat.

So now a much higher percentage of people are bringing bags with them on the plane, even though the amount of space in the overhead bins has not increased.

As I was getting on the plane last week, I noticed that it was taking FOREVER for everybody to load. People could not find spots for their luggage. It was full even though only half the people were on the plane.

How many customers are now upset about the extra fees, slow loading and irritation when trying to find a place to put their bag, and late arrivals?

It is my opinion that airline executives will see the positive side of their new fees (higher revenue per passenger), but will be scratching their heads when they lose even more money. They can’t see these unintended consequences on their financial reports. But they are there.

Read the whole thing.


C# said...

fortunately, you still get to check 2 bags in for free flying internationally.

Shawn said...

i submit that this is not true, at least on virgin, to the best of my knowledge as of a flight a couple months ago....we'd have had to pay.

I could be wrong about this...but I don't think so.