Opinion

Felix Salmon

Ben Baldanza defends charging for carry-ons

By Felix Salmon
April 9, 2010

Blog comment of the day comes from Ben Baldanza, the CEO of Spirit Airlines, with a crystal-clear explanation of why his fees for carry-on baggage make a lot of sense. It’s really worth reading the whole thing, but here’s the gist:

  • The fees reduce the amount of time it takes to board and exit the plane, benefiting everyone.
  • They reduce the chance that someone will be parted from their bag at the jetway because there’s no more baggage space left in the passenger cabin.
  • They eliminate the perverse monetary incentive to carry on a bag.
  • They make pricing transparent: Sprit has reduced fares “by at least as much, or even more than the amount of the carry-on fee”, says Baldanza. “Southwest makes you pay for checked bags even if you don’t check bags, since they have to cover those costs but give you no break if you don’t use the infrastructure. At Spirit, you spend only for what you use and don’t pay for what you don’t use.”

Baldanza says that Spirit’s sales “have soared” since the announcement was made; I’d love to see some numbers on that. And I can’t wait to see the reply to Baldanza from Bill Taylor, who wrote the original blog entry saying that the fee is “a horrible idea” and “a pretty interesting case study in the wrong ways for companies to respond to tough economic times–a reminder of how so many leaders manage to make bad situations worse”. Has Baldanza’s comment changed his mind at all?

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

That’s ridiculous.

We use carry-ons because checked baggage is slow, waiting for baggage is a waste of time, baggage handlers are notoriously abusive, much of our equipment and carry-ons cannot be checked because of laptops, medicines, and the necessary items that we carry in case baggage is lost, and we carry them as a hedge against the volume of checked baggage that is simply lost for days.

In other words, we use carry-ons to compensate for airline incompetence. So, you want to charge us because you’re incompetent?

I’ll bet your advertising agency is going to be wide-eyed at trying to rescue you from that one. In fact, I’d come out with campaigns attacking you for greed. Kill your brand the way Verizon just killed ATT’s over coverage. I just hope for your sake that your competitors don’t use our ad agency. We’d smell blood at this opportunity. I’d get the competing CEO to send yours a thank you letter for the gift of market share.

Unbelievable.

Posted by CurtD59 | Report as abusive
 

When arguments like those of Baldanza are offered as consolation to sugar-coat austerity-era fee hikes, with them comes an insinuation that the airline and its passengers are in joint pact mutuality with one another in regard to overall travel performance and efficiency.

What’s still missing for this to be taken seriously (rather than as another, possibly the last, straw on the traveler’s back) is reciprocity: a) that the airline owes its passenger for every minute a flight is delayed at either end; b) that the compensation for lost bags goes up for every stupid desk-clerk excuse the passenger has to listen to; and c) that there’s money back for every little (or big) in-flight discomfort suffered by fare-paying passengers.

Then, and only then, does Baldanza’s collective interest Darstellung hold water. Then, and only then, by all means go for the itemization argument. Not until then, however.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive
 

What a load of bull. That idiot Ben Baldanza wants us to believe after making the announcement of a ridiculous new fare addition for carry on’s people came out in droves to book tickets. Yeh right, I’m sure after the announcement the ticket sales really soared…. In a downward direction, that is. I’ll never fly Spirit Airlines thats for sure, and I hope when the higher ups see what a mistake they have made mister Baldanza will be looking for a new job. Golden Parachute and all.

Posted by MJ88 | Report as abusive
 

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