Who can fix it? Mr. Handy Man can. We all wish we had that one-call-does-all for every household problem from A to Z. How great would that be? Of course, it’s not that easy, it’s not even that easy to find a decent contractor in a specialized service like plumbing or electrical work. Remind yourself though, that things could be worse. It could be the Federal Government that you call, or worse still, calls you, when something needs fixing. Don’t believe me? Just ask Spirit Airlines.
Yes, Spirit Airlines, the low-cost carrier that just a few weeks ago announced it would begin charging forty-five dollars for carry-on luggage stowed in the overhead compartment. Most passengers took the news in stride, as we are all used to additional charges and hidden costs when it comes to the airlines. For myself, as a private pilot and aviation enthusiast, I am always amazed at the very reasonable cost of travelling on the airlines.
When you consider the cost of the equipment, the aircraft itself, tens of millions of dollars, and the crew to operate it, that cost alone would lead one to expect ticket prices in the thousands of dollars. Now add fuel, the airport infrastructure and the cost to build, maintain and operate it. The Air Traffic Control system and the cost of that infrastructure along with the requisite maintenance and operation costs. You get the picture. There is a lot at play that provides you, the flying passenger, the convenience of getting from A to B in relative speed, comfort and convenience.
It was Newton, though, that first laid the groundwork for air travel when he discovered gravity. Gravity is the big hurdle when it comes to keeping things in the air. There is a direct relationship between weight, and the cost of moving something by air. So when a member of Congress last week began to complain about Spirit Airlines and suggested something needed to be done, it made me cringe. Sure…let the Federal Government fix it. By the time they get done, the airlines will be paying you to fly. What possible business is it of anyone other than Spirit Airline management, what they charge for their service, or how they present those charges? And the government? The Grand Wizards of fiscal responsibility, of money management? They are going to step in?
You may have noticed, you can’t mail a cantaloupe for the same price as a paper clip, and there is a reason for that. I have always marveled at the fact that people too large to fit in one seat on an airliner, have the temerity to complain at the suggestion that they should buy two tickets. I even feel guilty when travelling on any trip for which my wife may have done the packing. Everything except the furniture will have been vacuum packed in suitcases and hauled to the airport. “Sorry we didn’t have any room for your luggage on this flight”, I often think to myself as other passengers watch in horror as we do our gate check. In fairness, we should charter a small cargo plane to carry our stuff, but most airlines hold no luggage maximum, so while most are paying the same, or close to it, for their ticket, the family with an extra ton of luggage is getting a bargain.
So it is with great interest that I watch the government try to insinuate itself, once again, into the airline business. Most airlines have had a struggle staying in business since 9/11 and then were further crippled by the spike in fuel prices. Let them shake it out on their own, is my advice. There are mergers underway and other shifts that should let that industry settle itself out.
Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have one industry left that is not co-owned or operated by the fools on Capital Hill?