Air Sick

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some airlines want to start charging for bathrooms and carry-on luggage. What's next? Author and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean brings us up-to-date on the latest in air travel.


Susan Orlean

Comments [31]

B from NYC

The problem is more that the general public doesn't want (or the airline industry doesn't THINK the public will tolerate) the knowledge that FLYING ISN'T CHEAP because of fuel. Start paying for what the fuel actully costs and stop charging for food/bags etc. Let the airline industry make the ticket cost itself go up, call it like it is (the fuel costs) and cut all the charges for "extras" and I think it would be more palatable.

Apr. 29 2010 01:28 PM

The reason the airlines are trying to break out as many services as possible is simple: only the core ticket price appears on the aggregator sites (like Expedia); the default sort is generally by price, so the airlines have to compete to get onto the first page.

Since the aggregators don't tell you what the other charges are, the airlines are including less and less in the base price of the ticket. That way, the passenger picks them on the aggregator site and gets hit with the additional charges later.

This will continue until some aggregator begins to provide the option to include the additional charges. But that's complicated, because they don't know how much your luggage weighs! They could at least let you screen out airlines that charge for carryons, for example; at the very least they should default to screening out the ones that charge for the bathroom!

Apr. 16 2010 12:13 PM
MG from NYC

And just to follow up, on the way back from DC, I took the Acela, which was lovely, and at $200 for a 2.5hr trip, was less than the Delta ticket and much nicer than flying, and there was tons of space in the overhead bins, and legroom at your seat.

I wish we had more high-speed trains like the Acela.

Next time to DC I'm going to try the MegaBus. For $20 each way, that's a pretty good price, but almost double the travel time...

Apr. 16 2010 12:01 PM

Although she had some good points, I can't believe you and the guest let that flight attendant get away with the Macy's/Bergdorf analogy. I don't have to take my shoes off or throw away my water bottles to go to Macy's; I can choose who I stand next to in Macy's; Macy's does not say that I have to go through Bergdorf's to buy something in their store. I've never been told that Macy's is too full and I have to wait hours (or perhaps overnight) on the sidewalk for another Macy's to open up.

If we suggested that flight attendants get paid the same as cashiers, I think they might have a problem with that.

Air travel is unique and the airlines take advantage of that in pricing. But when customers complain, they are quick to compare themselves to other services.

Apr. 16 2010 12:00 PM
the truth from bkNY

I wonder why the airlines don't care if we get disgruntled and take the train, bus or drive?

They are not lowering fares, they want to charge for carry on and now the bathroom?


Apr. 16 2010 11:54 AM
Ivey from Brooklyn

Be prepared! I never check bags, unless traveling to somewhere for over 6 months. I always bring snacks from home. I prepare for the worst. I think that the airline should provide water, and peanuts (except on peanut free flights of course) and toilets, and safe travel. But above and beyond this courteous and personal service is really important.

Apr. 16 2010 11:51 AM
austin from midtown east

interestingly enough, the airlines are not required to pay tax on those excess charges. chuck schumer wants to either make it illegal to charge for carry-on luggage or subject airlines that continue with them to taxes.

Apr. 16 2010 11:50 AM
d from Brooklyn/NYC

I guess we should also add time for emotional breakdowns.

Apr. 16 2010 11:49 AM
d from Brooklyn/NYC

I guess we should also add time for emotional breakdowns.

Apr. 16 2010 11:48 AM
Brian from UK

As an expat (originally from NYC) living in Europe, flying, in my experience, can be quite enjoyable, especially on short-haul flights. I suspect that there are substantial differences in quality/services in US/EU.

Incidentally, each time that I fly, luggage weight requirements are always made clear in email confirmations and on the respective airline's websites. And to be fair to the airlines, some people confuse vacation with moving house, and carry everything but the kitchen sink with them when they travel!

Apr. 16 2010 11:48 AM

Richard Johnston
do you carry that on with u

Apr. 16 2010 11:47 AM
Bruce Merchant

I am a frequent flier. Almost 200,000 miles a year. Unfortunately I cannot always use my miles for upgrades. But please airlines, do not nickle and dime me when I arrive with an extra bag containing samples. or whatever. I would prefer to know that the price I paid for my ticket is all inclusive.

Apr. 16 2010 11:47 AM

PLease please look into the NEW Greyhound (and other) buses. It's not Midnight Cowboy style anymore.
Think first class airline seats, acres of legroom, clean restrooms (no charge) bags aren't weighed. it's BEAUTIFUL. I've been telling everyone since I got back.

Apr. 16 2010 11:47 AM
Sally from NYC

Hey remember the days before deregulation, when air travel was actually pleasant in this country? Now it's all about bottom line.. flying foreign carriers is a completely different experience compared to domestic airlines. Everyone screams they want the cheapest ticket ever, but you actually pay for it in other ways.

Apr. 16 2010 11:47 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

This entire conversation points in one main direction: TRAINS!, TRAINS!, TRAINS!!

We need to get off our butts and have a full strategy to re-introduce train travel back to our society.

Apr. 16 2010 11:47 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

This entire conversation points in one main direction: TRAINS!, TRAINS!, TRAINS!!

We need to get off our butts and have a full strategy to re-introduce train travel back to our society.

Apr. 16 2010 11:46 AM

I probably don't fly as much as Ms. Orlean but somehow I always managed to follow the airlines' rules regarding baggage and board.

Part of the annoyance come from folks who seem to feel they should be exempt from regulations and have to repack at the counter b/c they don't want to pay a small fee so they delay everyone else.

Apr. 16 2010 11:46 AM
the truth from bkNY

....all this and you gotta worry about arriving ontime and possibly landing on the water too?Too much!

Apr. 16 2010 11:45 AM
ursonate from boston

When Bergdorfs and Saks are selling the same item, they do charge the same!

I just want to buy up some overhead space and rent it out.

Apr. 16 2010 11:45 AM
MG from NYC

I have to say I'm really disappointed in how bad the quality of our taxi drivers is now. They know nothing about the latest news on traffic etc., or even simple locations.

Two examples: on March 17th, I hopped in a cab on the West Side Highway and needed to get to midtown, 2nd Ave. This is the same day as the largest parade in NYC. What did my cabdriver do? He drove straight INTO a large traffic jam at 46th and 6th! He didn't even know about the parade happening! I gave him a piece of my mind and told him he should at least listen to the traffic on the news before he goes to work.

And last weekend, on my way to LaGuardia to take the Delta Shuttle to DC for the first time in my life, the driver drops me off at the Delta terminal, NOT the Delta Shuttle terminal, which is MILES away. Thankfully I was able to hop in another cab, but I could have missed my flight. I'm sorry, but in both cases, I don't think I was expecting too much to think that the drivers should have either been aware of the current traffic situ in NYC or the location of something as basic as where a major airline shuttle departs from.

I'm all for our city being multi culti, and don't hold the drivers (who were Pakistani and Philippino, respectively) being foreign-born as the problem, but I do hold the NYC Taxi Commission responsible. They obviously have no type of testing involve to determine if the taxi driver has a clue about NYC.

It should be like London, where the drivers have to take a rigorous test before they are turned loose on the city.

Apr. 16 2010 11:44 AM
the truth from bkNY

See that call from the waitress....that is the attitude I am talking about!

Apr. 16 2010 11:43 AM
Jannette from NJ

I recently took Amtrak train from NY to Boston. The seats were roomy, I had a power outlet next to my seat, and I didn't have to deal with the hassle of security and removing shoes and laptops, etc. If Amtrak's prices were more competitive, I would consider them more often for shorter trips rather than deal with the hassle of airplanes. But as long as trains cost almost as much as flying, it's harder to justify the longer travel time. (Although you have to consider how long you spend going through security at the airport - makes the trip so much longer).

Apr. 16 2010 11:42 AM
the truth from bkNY

Interesting they want to charge us for all this additional stuff but they need to get waitresses with better attitudes!

Apr. 16 2010 11:42 AM
mary from nyc

For travelers stuck in Manhattan please come to Tavern on Jane in the lovely West Village at 31 Eighth Ave cr. of Jane Street - Just 2 blocks below 14th street. Great burgers /beer/ and good company!

see you there!

Apr. 16 2010 11:41 AM
Richard Johnston from Upper West Side

For $35 I bought a handy digital fish scale so I can weigh my luggage at home before I go the airport, so I avoid excess weight charges.

Apr. 16 2010 11:41 AM
Paul from Princeton

If you fly to Toronto from Newark, fly Porter Air - best ever!

Apr. 16 2010 11:40 AM
Hal from Brooklyn

I try not to travel with more than I can carry.

We're leaving for a vacation in Spain next week...I hope the volcanic ash won't be a problem.

Apr. 16 2010 11:39 AM
Sam from Manhattan

I don't understand all of the outrage regarding the surcharges in air travel for food, headphones, etc. One way or another you pay for this stuff. Either you pay separately or it's added to the price of the ticket. Alternatively, it's ludicrous that an airline should advertise itself as not charging for checked baggage since that cost is invariably built into the price of the ticket. All of these measures are just trying to mask the fact that air travel overall is getting more expensive. A truth that we all must come to terms with.

Apr. 16 2010 11:38 AM
Tom from Toronto

I bought some noise-cancelling headphones on my last trip from Orlando to Toronto, and they were worth every penny.

Apr. 16 2010 11:38 AM
Rob from the Bronx

Even if it generates revenues for the airlines charging for bathroom use is a stupid idea! This is an example of why you cannot let only one department or person make decisions, any additional revenue raised will be so overshadowed by the negative feelings associated with the airline and by association personnel (who probably had nothing to do with the decision) that it would not be worth it. I know that I am already thinking of bathroom humor for any such airline and will they really refuse someone who really needs to go and does not have any money?

Apr. 16 2010 11:26 AM

will anyone mind if go in a cup and ask the stewardess/waitress to throw it away for me?

Apr. 16 2010 10:17 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.