It had to happen. I'm amazed no one had thought of it before.
First, the airlines forced everybody into seats that were too small and kept the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign on until everybody was permanently bent into position.
Then they stopped serving meals.
Then, they started underpaying their pilots.
Then, they started charging for suitcases.
Now, a certain airline (name omitted to protect the guilty) has announced they will start charging people $45 for having a carry-on bag ($30 if you pay on-line). You can expect the other airlines to jump all over this idea. It's great!
Yep, all those folks who try to get out of paying for their suitcases by bringing them into the cabin and stuffing them into overhead bins, punching and shoving until the suitcase finally breaks through the fuselage and gets sucked out of the plane on take-off, are finally going to get nailed. Alas, so is anybody who wants to toss a backpack or jacket up there.
Where will we go from here? Airline execs are no doubt wondering the very same thing. All of them are losing business. They have to make money for their shareholders. They need to find new ways to abuse passengers and get their money.
(1)Kidnap people and force them to sit for hours in a crowded and unventilated metal tube without access to food, water or toilet facilities. Yes, yes, they've been doing this all along. But they could make money doing it. After the first three hours, I'll bet those passengers would be glad to pay twenty dollars to use the bathroom, or to get a drink of water. If somebody passes out, even better: I'll bet their relatives would be pay up to a hundred or more for an ambulance. If they don't have any relatives on the plane, the airline could make a phone call:
Mrs. Smith: Hello?
Airline representative: We have your husband. We've had him in a little chair for the last three hours in a 90 degree cabin. Mr. Smith has fainted. For five hundred dollars we can get him medical treatment. Of course, that doesn't include medical treatment. That's five hundred dollars to let the paramedics take him off the plane.
Mrs. Smith: He has a heart condition! For the love everything holy, help him!
Airline representative: Hey, I don't care about religion, lady. You want him alive, cough up the dough. He's coming round a little. Say Hello, Mr. Smith. (Mr. Smith groans a little into the phone.) You heard him, lady. He's alive-for now.
Mrs. Smith: I'll pay! I'll pay!
(2) Of course, once the plane has left the ground, everybody's pretty much at the mercy of the flight attendants. Load everybody up with plenty of free soda on the flight from Miami to L.A. and then charge admission to the bathroom.
(Somewhere over Kansas)
Mrs. Smith: But Tommy really has to go. I beg you, we have no more money! I'll do anything!
Flight Attendant: Fine. Hand over your credit card.
Mrs. Smith: But there's nothing left on my credit card either. I maxed it out when you held my husband hostage!
Flight Attendant: How dare you suggest we would do such a thing! Maybe I should put you and your disruptive son off the plane right now for saying that!
Mrs. Smith: But we're at 35,000 feet.
Flight Attendant: So?
Mrs. Smith: You're joking!
Mrs. Smith: All right, all right! Here's my debit card. There's only $58.73 left on it, and I was going to use that money to buy groceries this week.
Flight Attendant: It's only $20, but toilet paper will be extra.
Tommy: Mommy, I also have to make Number Two.
(3) Once the plane has landed and pulled up to the gate, people are practically climbing over each other to get off and run to catch their connecting flight. Again, here's another huge opportunity being wasted. Demand money to let people off the plane.
Mrs. Smith: Hurry, Tommy, we have to catch the next flight. Now remember, you can't go to the bathroom on the flight to Alaska. We can't afford it.
Flight Attendant: Where do you think you're going?
Mrs. Smith: I have nothing left. I have to get to Alaska! My bed-ridden grandmother is desperately ill!
Flight Attendant: (Sighs.) Fine. I'm not without mercy. Hand over your wedding ring and I'll let you both go.
These are just a few profitable scenarios. Airlines could also:
4. Sell the organs of disruptive passengers.
5. Sell cargo space to human traffickers.
6. Let passengers only think they are booking a flight to Pittsburg. Once they are in the air, take them to an unenlightened country and sell them as slaves, unless, of course, they come up with one thousand dollars each. And a 747 can now carry 467 people. We're talking some serious moola here.
7. Once the flight has taken off, demand extra money from the passengers to land at their destination of choice.
8. Refuse to let passengers board the plane without buying single-use, identifying uniforms.
9. Refuse to land the plane at all. Demand passengers buy a single-use parachute, coordinated to match the single-use uniform. Throw everyone overboard while warning them to "Watch out for those crazy engines."
10.Auction off food. "What am I bid for this juicy cheeseburger, still hot from the overpriced bar and grill at the airport we just left?Do I hear $15? 15,15,15, I have $15 from the businessman in 12C. Do I hear $20?"
The most important thing to remember about these ideas is that they only sound outrageous. But if all the airlines adopt them, well, passengers will have no choice. Except to take the bus or stay home. A lot of folks seem to be doing that lately. I'm not sure why...