Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Airlines Need Money to Operate

While anyone who has operated a Fortune 500 company or a lemonade stand can well attest to the need for their endeavors to take in more money than they spend in order to survive and thrive, apparently this trivial fact of business life is lost on some journalists.  Ellen Creager's Airlines Becoming a Free-For-All, Chi. Tribune, Aug. 25, 2009 (available here), is a good case in point.  According to Creager, "Like an unkind project in social engineering, fees are being especially jacked up for unaccompanied children, pets and sporting equipment -- all hassles for the airlines -- to create a major disincentive to fly."  Really?  Could it not be that the airlines are attempting to offset the costs associated with special accommodations and recover enough revenue to keep their operations afloat in tough economic times? 

Creager goes on to provide a list of "egregious" airline fees for everything from pets to surfboards, failing to note next to each example why an airline might charge a premium to handle and store them.  No one is forced to fly with their guitar or their bike.  In fact, no one is forced to fly at all.  It's a service consumers choose to use--and one which they have to pay for if they want it made available.  With a worldwide economic depression and volatile operating costs pummeling the airlines, consumers have to realize that the "good old days" are, if not gone forever, at least on hold for the indefinite future.  Instead of putting in perspective what the airlines realistically need to do to stay in business, Creager takes the easy route of simply ridiculing them for trying.  Such righteous indignation may draw some reader's eyes to the page, but it does nothing to inform them of the tough operating environment the airlines are in.


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