Some major airlines, such as Universal Air, began
considering plans to charge passengers by the pound in response to Allegiant Airline's recently-announced
plan to charge up to $35 per carry-on bag.
"It's simple math," stated Howard Fine, a spokesperson for Universal
Airlines, a rival of Allegiant Air. "Heavier passengers cost more to ship
from point A to point B."
In response to questions about consumer backlash over yet another scheme to increase the cost of airline travel, Fine downplayed such concerns by stating, "Our new "Pay-by-the-Pound Plan' is much different than the fees that have recently been imposed by our competitor, Allegiant Airlines. Paying by weight is not a new idea. The post office has been charging by the ounce to ship packages for decades. We're simply taking the same idea and applying it to airline travel."
In 2009, most major airlines began charging substantial fees for checked luggage--in some cases, up to $60-$70 per bag. Since then, many passengers have successfully avoided paying those costs by increasing the amount of carry-on luggage that they take on their flights.
Howard Fine explains, "Fees for checked luggage haven't really worked. Sure, passengers are checking in fewer bags, but now they are carrying-on a lot more luggage. It's sort of a game of chess. Airlines make one move, and then passengers make the next, but in the end the airlines are still carrying the same amount of weight."
When questioned about Allegiant Air's new plan to charge for carry-on baggage, Howard Fine commented, "Passengers aren't going to like it, and I don't blame them. In fact, that's why Universal Air would never impose a carry-on fee." Fine elaborates, "Carry-on fees seem punitive. It's like passengers figured out how to get around checked luggage fees, and now they are being punished by airlines like Allegiant for being savvy consumers."
Yet, Fine remains confident that passengers will view Universal Airline's "Pay-by-the-Pound Plan' differently, "Carry-on fees are punitive, but charging by weight is actually beneficial." When asked to elaborate, Fine added, "Well, it's simple really. Passengers who weigh less will pay less."
It remains to be seen whether passengers will react positively to Universal Airline's "Pay-by-the-Pound Plan.' However, for his part, Howard Fine remains upbeat, "If you think about it, it's kind of like Universal is creating an incentive for passengers to be fit and trim. In a sense, we're creating a health plan for our passengers."