Latest Airline Fee: Pay Toilets?


I think it was the "antler fee" that finally sent me around the bend.

That's right, I said antlers. Frontier Airlines has raised the cost of transporting a rack of antlers from $75 to $100. I wasn't aware antler transport was such a big deal, which made me wonder: What other off-the-wall fees are airlines collecting these days? More to the point, what new fees are airline execs even now plotting to spring on us?

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I do not know, but I decided to try to think like an airline bean-counter and came up with some diabolical possibilities. "Oh, Rick," you may be saying, "these ideas of yours are insane; no one would dare institute such crazy fees." To which I can only reply: I hope not, my friends. I hope not.

And now, in no particular order, here are my Top Ten Totally Crazy Airline Fees -- That Don't Exist -- Yet!

No. 1 -- Lavatory Licensing: Until the mid-1970s, pay toilets were common in the United States (and for those who like trivia, credit for their demise must go to the Committee to End Pay Toilets In America -- seriously). So what's to stop the airlines from resurrecting this scheme?

Perhaps they'd treat lavatory fees like current checked-bag charges: the first trip to the bathroom is free, but look out for that $25 tariff for the second visit.

Drawback: Remember, American Airlines now charges for every checked bag; if it institutes a similar lavatory assessment, passengers just might want to skip the beverage service (assuming it stays free …)

No. 2 -- Nausea Tax: The weather is stormy and it's starting to feel as though the captain is showing us all the tricks he learned back in his days as a stunt pilot. What wouldn't you give for a nice clean paper bag? Well, what would you give? $5? $10? I'm just asking before the airlines beat me to it.

Maybe this really is something worth paying for; ask anyone who's had the experience of reaching into the seatback pocket only to discover an ABUB ( airline-speak for an "already-been-used-bag.")

Drawback: Will an additional fee be required for toxic bag disposal?

No. 3 -- Oxygen Tariff: It's one of those terrifying moments -- the oxygen masks appear! Better have your MasterCard ready (credit this idea to political cartoonist Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic, who captioned a recent cartoon: "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head. For $15, you can activate it …")

This could be a real money-maker for the airlines, since I suspect everyone will be reaching for those masks once they add up all the fees and surcharges on their airline ticket: The total cost of a flight has been known to make grown men faint dead away.

Drawback: Let's just hope that plastic tubing can hold the weight of the oxygen mask as well as a credit card reader.

No. 4 -- Seatback Stipend: Tired of the eternal struggle between passengers who want to put their seatback down as far as it will go, and the passengers who are tired of having a stranger's head in their lap? Well, once you pay this fee, you can slam your seatback down wherever and whenever you like.

Drawback: Once the other guy starts paying a fee to prevent the passenger in front of him from lowering his seatback, we're going to have trouble.

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