Thursday, July 28, 2011

That's Not The Spirit

I wouldn't normally speak badly of an airline with an open flight still pending but I must make an exception. If the brass at Spirit Airlines get wind of this and try to hassle me on my return flight from Chicago to LAX then so be it. I can't imagine whatever they cook up could be worse than my outgoing flight to Chicago.

I booked the ticket a few weeks back. And yes it was cheap but not alarmingly so. I paid what you could reasonably expect to pay for a 2nd tier airline but not so low an amount that I expected to get out and push or sit next to a chicken. I didn't have to help jump start the plane or suffer loud poultry but they did nickel and dime me every step of the way. $10-50 dollars to pick a seat assignment (any seat), $45 to bring a carry on, $3 for water or soda and the tiniest seats imagnable on a plane. I've ridden vintage roller coasters, constructed when people were a foot shorter, with more leg room.

45 dollars to bring a carry on?! I can't dream up too many scenarios where you'd need to travel from LA to Chicago and also only need to bring just a fanny pack. This tactic is called price discrimination. They're trying to breakdown the airline experience into smaller fragments and identifying who will pay what for certain "services" in the process. I think some things are implicit to an experience. Can Starbucks start charging more if you want a cup or a napkin? And if they did, what price should they list given the fact that most people will need a cup? Obviously they should quote the "coffee with a cup price." (just figured I'd spell it out for a folks too sleepy or hung over to connect the dots :-) Maybe there should be a surcharge for sitting down at a table. It's a slippery slope and soon you'll be charged per breath or per heartbeat. Poor people will be forced to keep their life functions at a bare minimum.

Ultimately, this becomes yet another oppressive experience for the have nots. A company that hides a dozen charges can not have super friendly service. Even if they try the whole exchange is an oxymoron and the disdain they have for their customers is clear whether accompanied by a smile or not. Everyone doesn't need plush accomodations but no one is really being spared anything, except a bit of dignity, when they signed up for a cheap service that then tries to gorge you every step of the way reminding you every step of the way of your financial situation and institutionalizing you in the process. Slowly making you okay with the inferior treatment.

How about you tell me how much it costs to fly on Spirit air from the beginning? A carry-on isn't a premium service it's mustard on a sandwich, doorknobs in an apartment, laces with a pair of shoes. To strip certain services is to do a disservice. I promise not to cry foul ball if I ever fly from LAX to Chicago with no bags and I pay the same as someone who does have a carry on. That's okay. I don't want 5 cents knocked off my sandwich if I don't get mayonnaise.

3 weeks ago I traveled 14 hours on KLM in World Business Class. And yes that was over the top in terms of offerings but the respect and friendliness was right on and free and something that can be afforded to everyone. Spirit air will now be known to me as "Only In an Absolute Bind"...Airlines.