Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Rule Benefits Nudists

In a bold move, Spirit Airlines made an announcement today that makes them the first U.S. airline to begin charging for carry-on luggage as of August 1.

Though I’m guessing that a lot of consumers, just like some of the agents from our agency will disagree with me on this, I don’t necessarily think this is a “bad thing.” IF there are reasonable parameters. Let’s face it, flying is a miserable experience. And with the airlines’ apparent attitude toward luggage…. losing it, damaging it and charging to carry it in the cargo hold, they’ve created a situation whereby people are packing up everything short of the kitchen sink and hauling it into the cabin past staff who often aren’t enforcing the carry-on policies. I’m tired of getting banged with the luggage people are pushing, pulling and carrying down the narrow aisle of the plane and then trying to stuff it into the overhead above me. And frankly, I’m tired of trying to protect other passengers as I struggle with my own luggage which I’m trying to keep from checking in.

So what are the parameters I’d like to see in place?

First off, “no double dipping!” I have an issue with an airline that wants to charge people for luggage that’s going into the hold and into the cabin. Spirit’s plan is to collect from you either way. Unless you’re a business traveler who is flying roundtrip in one day or you are going on a nudist trip, this is going to be an added expense no matter how well you plan. I’d like to see an airline that only charges for extra baggage in the cabin. I believe it would be safer and more comfortable for most travelers if there is less luggage in the cabin. But Spirit plans to be a double-dipper.

Secondly, if an airline wants people to check their luggage in, let’s see a real commitment toward caring about luggage. Announce a plan and a promise toward better baggage handling. Keep reducing lost and damaged luggage instances.

Third, be sure that assistive devices are still permitted in the cabin and at no extra cost. Good news! This actually comes in under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). That’s why I didn’t make this my number one concern. ACAA
states, “Assistive devices brought into the cabin by an individual with a disability shall not count toward a limit on carry-on items.”

Next, an airline needs to be reasonable. Spirit Airlines has made what appear to be clear rules and reasonable exceptions. Each passenger can bring on one personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you so it can be no larger than 16” x 14” x 12”. Items which can be brought into the cabin for free in addition to assistive devices are: umbrella, coat, hat, camera, diaper bag, car seat (if you purchased a seat for a baby), stroller and also reading material and food for use during the flight.

If you wish to bring on one extra carry-on bag, you’ll be charged between $20-45 depending on whether you are one of their Fare Club members, pay in advance or pay at the gate. For more information regarding Spirit Airline’s new baggage policy, visit
http://www.spiritair.com/Policiesbags.aspx.