Pssst Buddy – Eight Bucks For A Blanket?

February 9, 2010 on 8:29 pm | In, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

American Airlines announced yesterday that it is going to charge those passengers who want a blanket, $8 for a blanket and inflatable pillow that can not only can be used on the flight, but also kept for future use on upcoming flights. How gracious! American joined Jet Blue and U.S. Airways as the three major airlines that charge for blankets – and we have not seen a pillow in an economy section in a long time.

We can just see adding “Pillow and blanket” to our preflight checklist when at home preparing for another departure. How cheap can these people be?

Yes, we realize that American Airlines lost $1.5 billion over the last year. However, the reason they lost that much money has nothing to do with providing flyers with a blanket or a pillow. American has cannibalized its routes to such a degree that is it almost impossible to fly them.

Recently, we tried to fly American from Orange County, CA to San Francisco – nope, American no longer flies that route. The following week we were back in Orange County and wanted to fly to Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, but we had an afternoon meeting with an editor and needed to make the meeting. Nope, not possible from Orange County. How about LAX? Nope, not possible from LAX, unless we wanted to leave the day before and fly all night, arriving at six in the morning. No thanks, American. We took a United Flight that, although it left at 6 a.m., got us to Dulles at 1:30 p.m.

American has adopted a hub and spoke logistics concept and it is almost impossible to fly them anywhere distant if you want a non-stop in order to avoid an extra three hours in your schedule. The reason they are losing money is that they no longer offer flights and schedules that are appealing to their once loyal flyers (we have flown over one million miles on American (and other airlines as well) but do not think of American as our first choice any longer, since we can never find a schedule on American that meets our needs.

I guess the corporate wonks have divined that asking people to pay for pillow and blankets will improve their financial performance. Alternatively, maybe, the price of those pillow and blankets will cover the subsidies they are providing to JAL to remain their OneWorld partner?

And you know what is next – Yep, the Pee Fee, a trial balloon once raised by RyanAir, although no one has yet proposed the “bowel bond”. However, we think that American will take a few more small steps before charging travelers to use the toilets. Like -installing electrical sockets in the the seatbacks and charging you to plug in and view the entertainment you bring on board when your battery cannot last the trip? You haven’t seen anything yet!

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