OK, so Spirit Airlines decided, last week, to do something which strikes me as decidedly dumb, at least from a PR standpoint: charge $45 per carry-on bag for its flights.   The fact that Spirit plans to cut its fares by $40 will certainly be lost on travelers, and there is little doubt in my mind that this will be a PR fiasco predictable enough that one wonders what the powers that be at Spirit were thinking.

So what does New York Senator Chuck Schumer plan to do about it?  Act as our nanny. Now, one of two things is happening: either Chuck lacks the most basic understanding of economics—as well as the most basic understanding of the role of  our ostensibly limited government in our Constitutional system, or he is grandstanding in a shameless attempt to score political points among his constituents who are…shall we say, either Constitutionally or mentally challenged?  I doubt that Senator Schumer is nearly that dumb, which leaves the second option as the obvious one: seizing upon what seems to be a dumb move by a corporation, Senator Schumer is grabbing the opportunity to make it look like he—and the Democrats—are really “on the side of the little guy”.

Rubbish.  Aside from the fact that this doesn’t fall within light years of the government’s purview, what possible good could this accomplish (answer: zero)?  Spirit has to make money to be in business, and it thought that this was a good way to make that happen.  I think it’s a dumb marketing ploy—but in a free society, Spirit needs to suffer whatever costs a free people decide to exact upon the company for this decision.  Don’t want to pay $45 to carry on a bag?  Fly JetBlue.  Fly American.  Fly Delta.  Vote with your wallet.

Same as a couple years back when the Schumer-types were all up in arms about banks paying ATM fees, suggesting that banks were “gouging” consumers by charging fees that some government wonks, in their infinite wisdom, decided were “too high”.  Well, excuse me for living, but if a bank wants to charge me $50 per ATM fee, that’s none of the government’s business.  None.  Zero, zilch, nada.  Why?  Because I’m free.  And because this is supposed to be a free country. And if my bank engages in practices I find not to be to my liking, I am perfectly free to do business with a different bank.  I’ve done it before with banks, and I’ve done it with other companies, and I don’t need the government to be my nanny and make decisions of this nature for me.  And if people don’t care enough about it to allow companies to get away with making these kinds of decisions, then as long as the government is making sure that there’s a level playing field for other companies to provide their services to me in a free market, then beyond that, the government should stay the heck out of it.

Not that I expect liberal do-gooders like Senator Chucky to understand that in this lifetime.

One response »

  1. Graham says:

    How widely did they advertise the $45 per bag, compared to advertising the fare decrease?

    Airlines come up with these tactics to make it look as if it’s cheaper. Ryanair are notorious for offering flights for a few pounds, and then have “fees and charges” in the small print. When I was in Dublin airport a couple of years ago (back in the days when air travel in Northern Europe was possible), I saw a book on sale for just 1 cent. It was called “Ruinair”, but on the price sticker, in small print, it said that fees and charges of 12.98 euros apply if you buy it.

    ATMs- a bit of a tricky one. Of course, they can charge what they like (ones in train stations and airports like to add charges on). If I walk to the station for a train, then in the first 10 minutes from my home I pass 4 ATMs by different banks, plus 3 outside supermarkets. If one charged, I could go elsewhere. Where the controversy arose was banks wanting to impose charges on customers of other banks for using their ATMs, and where this was in villages where there is only one bank. So, if people wanted to avoid charges, they would have to transfer their bank account to that particular banking company.

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