Travel Costs, Dolly’s Trip to Arizona, and a Marketing Lesson

While some prognosticators are suggesting that folks are less likely to travel because of high costs, we're actually seeing the reverse.  Indeed, with well planned travel, we're seeing some of the lowest rates in years.  While airline costs did surge this past summer to some hefty levels, they've recently dropped like the proverbial rock.  We have little trouble finding 30 day rates in the $300 level almost anywhere.

What one does have to watch for is unbundled fees.  Baggage charges; meal costs; service fees are becoming the norm.  In my opinion, some of these fees make little sense and only serve to tick people off…like the airlines need more bad consumer reactions.

As one example, my 80 year-young mother is heading to Arizona from upstate New York in late January to visit my brother.  My mother's ticket was $125 one-way.  That's darn reasonable.  But she has a small dog that travels with her.  Dolly is a Llasso Apso and weighs about fifteen pounds.  Her carryon bag is about the size of a large purse.  She rides under the seat and requires no special handling.  She's very well behaved…much better then 90% of human passengers, for sure.  Get this.  Dolly's one-way ticket to Arizona…$175.  $50 more then that of the passenger carrying the bag.  Go figure!

Another ridiculous charge, in my opinion, are human baggage fees.  Every airline save one has gotten on the bandwagon and started charging fees for checking baggage.  What's that accomplished?  Well, after millions of dollars of resystemization, what we now see are delayed departures because people are carrying on more baggage.  When the overhead compartments fill up, they have to start checking bags.  And charging.  This brings the entire system to a screechin' hault.  Imagine what would have happened had they simply added $15 to the ticket price and saved all this aggravation.  My prediction is that baggage charges will disappear.  And that may be thanks, in part, to my friends at Southwest Airlines.  These foxy folks have turned a "sows ear" into the proverbial "silk purse." 

Southwest’s push to differentiate itself from competitors by emphasizing its opposition to

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