Airlines fees remain an endless source of fascination. The word now is that Spirit Airlines will be charging five bucks if they have to print a boarding pass for you. This is offset by an across the board $5.00 reduction in fares. That is, if you win if you can remember to print your boarding pass before you head to the airport. (The astute reader will note that most passengers travel round trip and hence are out five bucks if they have to print two boarding passes.)
Here is the NBC News report on the move.
The related Wall Street Journal story (Spirit Air’s New First: Levying Fee for Passes, Jun 22) has the following chestnut.
“We believe it is important to let customers decide what is of value to them,” said Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s chief executive. “Imagine if you went to a restaurant and all the meals came with dessert. That’s great if you like dessert but, if you don’t, you would prefer the option to pay less for the meal and not take the dessert.”
So we have posted on fees for printing passes before, and it is worth noting that Spirit’s five dollar levy looks like chump change compared to Ryanair’s forty pound fee for the same service. As I said then, if enough customers buy into this plan, a few bucks to print the boarding pass may not be out of line if one thinks about the cost of providing the service (and, yes, I understand that cost is not the only factor in setting prices). If printing boarding passes means staffing a counter all day and only a handful of customers opt to print their passes, then those are very expensive transactions. At the same time, printing one’s own pass creates value for customers since they can now skip standing in line.