The Daily Parker

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That's the spirit

The Spirit of Stupidity:

The next obsession, at least for passengers of Spirit Airlines, may be cramming items under airplane seats. The Florida discount carrier said Tuesday that it would charge customers as much as $45 each way to place bulky items in overhead bins, in an effort to get people on and off its planes faster. Other airlines will watch Spirit's experiment.

Carry-on bags didn't become the primary source of luggage for passengers until carriers introduced fees for infrequent fliers and then raised them to $25 to check a first bag and $35 for a second item. United, among the first to adopt the fees, has seen the volume of checked bags fall for 25 consecutive months, said Cindy Szadokierski, United's vice president of airport operations planning and United Express.

Every major U.S. airline except for Southwest Airlines has introduced such fees since 2008, and no wonder. The 10 largest U.S. carriers collected $739.8 million in baggage charges during the third quarter of 2009, double prior-year totals, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Being a oneworld loyalist, I doubt I'd ever fly Spirit Airlines. But if I had to fly a route they served that American didn't, I'd rather pay a competitor $50 more than pay them $25 to carry on a bag. I suspect many people will make a similar calculation.

Then there's the possible fraudulent element. If Spirit airfares show up on aggregators $10 less than competing fares, but really you have to spend $25 extra just to board the plane, doesn't that seem, well, wrong?

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