This week, I sent the following letter to the editor of The Washington Post:
With fuel prices surging, commercial airlines have started charging passengers for once-gratis amenities (sodas, the first checked bag, pillows-n-blankets) and have increased fees for other amenities (alcoholic drinks, additional checked bags). A recent editorial [“Pillows and Planes,” August 13] describes these fees as “picking passengers’ pockets” and “idea[s] to separate you from your money.”Are you kidding me? Those amenities weigh down the plane. The fees therefore distribute higher fuel costs to passengers who consume more fuel. As important, they allow passengers to avoid getting their pockets picked by avoiding those amenities. (Don’t want to pay for checked baggage? Pack light.) The only people those fees hurt are the free-riders whose amenities were being subsidized by everyone else. The fees don’t allow pocket-picking; they put an end to it.The next time I hear a temper-tantrum coming from the main cabin – or first class? – I’ll know it’s a Post editor who had to pay $14 for his vodka tonic and pillow.