Airline considers $10 surcharge for baby-free seating, priority disembarking

What will the airlines start charging us for next? After you read this, you’ll be sorry you asked.

Nigel Appleby’s daughter recently got a survey from WestJet which offers some clues about the Canadian carrier’s next move. It’s troubling, to say the least.

WestJet has denied that it sent the survey to its customers.

According to Appleby, the airline wanted to know if passengers would consider a $10 service fee for one of the following:

Priority boarding (getting on the plane first)

Priority disembarking (getting off the plane first)

Expedited baggage delivery

Priority rebooking in case of flight cancellation

Complimentary meals/hotel accommodations when a flight is either cancelled or substantially delayed

In-flight Internet access

Guaranteed space in the overhead bin

In-seat power

Premium snack/meal offering

A freshly laundered pillow/blanket set that you may keep after the flight

An amenity kit with earplugs, eyeshades and toiletries to keep you refreshed on the plane

A wait of 10 minutes or less to clear security checkpoints

Sitting away from parents traveling with babies/small children

If you could pay $10 less to not use particular services for a flight of two to four hours, how likely would you be to do so for each of the following services?

Savings for not checking bags

Savings for not earning frequent flier miles

Savings for only bringing aboard one small piece of carry-on baggage (e.g., only a purse or computer bag)

Savings for being the last to board

Savings for using online check-in instead of a kiosk

Savings for using either a kiosk or online check-in instead of a human agent

Savings for having my checked luggage to be among the last to be delivered

Savings for sitting in a middle seat

Savings for making no changes to your ticket prior to departure

Savings for not getting free water, coffee/tea, juices or soft drinks in flight

Savings for having a seat that does not recline

Savings to sit close to parents traveling with babies/small children

This is disappointing, but not surprising. Airlines are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to generating “ancillary” revenues from their customers.

The funny thing is that there’s no “discount” for services you don’t use. When airlines went “a la carte” they didn’t discount their fares – instead, they were busy trying to raise them.

So let’s call this what it really is – a hidden fare increase.