In a number of different strings, many have complained about the new airline fees for checked bags, objecting to the "nickel-and-diming" issue. "Why don't they just raise the price by $15 and get it over with?"
Turns out there are two very good resons:
1. As we've noted before, there's an actual link between the weight of the aircraft and fuel consumption. Since there is, a decent case can be made for charging only those who check bags for the cost of doing so. It's like speciality restaurants aboard ship charging those who use them. Not all impose this surcharge, but some do. At least it's not idiotic.
2. But I've just read some notes from an airline executive that present an even better reason: He points out that airfares today are nearly completely "transparent." That is, anybody can (and you do
) look at the internet and compare fares for all airlines on all routes for a given day. Most likely, you will choose the lowest fare.
Now, as you may know, it is illegal for airlines to collude on fare increases and suchlike. So, if one airline takes the advice of so many on this board and "just jacks the price fifteen bucks," they will instantly
fall to the bottom of the list on the fare comparison pages of all the big search engines, unless everybody follows suit immediately. But since all the other airlines know that such a price hike will kill the "pioneer" in ticket sales--at least in the short run--they'll gleefully keep their prices down long enough to let the sucker twist in the wind for awhile. Fare increases are a massive game of chicken, and not as easy to pull off as we'd like to think.
Another example of how the internet helps the consumer, but dampens the airlines' ability to do what they might like to do if so many people weren't looking at Travelocity and its brethren, and choosing based on price alone.
No different, really, than the trend among cruise lines to try to keep the base fares a low as possible, and make up for it by charging extra for as many things as possible.