Spirit Airlines' Next Fee? Talking to a Human
Expect more fees but CEO rules out charge to use the bathroom.
Aug. 3, 2010— -- Just when you thought airlines couldn't get any stingier, the CEO of Spirit Airlines said he is considering a new fee to talk with a human at the airport.
Baldanza said passengers won't see this fee "in the very near term." Or at least not until the airline improves its airport technology.
"When talking to a human being becomes an option, rather than a necessity, then we're willing to charge for it -- as we do with the call center -- but we're not at that position in the airports today," Baldanza said. "It's not that we don't think it's not a good idea at some point."
Most major airlines, including Spirit, already charge $5 to $25 to make reservations over the phone but no U.S. airline charges passengers to interact with its ticket and gate agents. European discount airline Ryanair -- often seen as a model for Spirit -- does force all its passengers to check in online. Those who don't are charged up to $60 to have their boarding passes printed at the airport.
"Nothing surprises me anymore and passengers should feel the same," said John DiScala, a blogger known as Johnny Jet. "The airlines have been trying to find ways to scheme passengers for a while now and they are willing to try anything. The only way to fight it is to fly another airline."