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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

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The "Friendly" Airline Gets Even More Hostile

By Judi Janofsky

Two weeks ago, I wrote about United Airline’s new policy of charging passengers $25 for checking a second piece of luggage. We received more e-mails from readers about that article than any other we’ve published. All upset with the airline’s new practice. Most told us they wrote to United’s CEO Glenn Titton as we suggested.

One of our readers did hear back from Tilton and forwarded his response to us which was --

“With fuel at record levels, our fares and baggage charges are excellent value... Certainly compared to FedEx or UPS alternatives...

All the best with whomever you choose to fly.”

Now really, what kind of answer is that – like who ever thought of United as a competitor of FedEx and UPS? I thought United was a passenger carrier. Does Tilton want us to believe that the normal person would even think about booking a flight and sending our luggage on cargo plane? What arrogance.

The result of this policy change was that indeed, as we predicted, other airlines are joining the bandwagon. U.S. Airways just announced last week that they will follow suit. Starting May 5, 2008, the carrier will also assess a $25 fee for a second checked bag.

Hopefully, some other airlines will see these new policies by United and U.S. Airways as an opportunity to win over passengers. And that passengers will see this as an opportunity to fly other airlines.

My husband and I did just that recently and what a treat. We flew Continental to Quebec through Newark two weeks ago. Check in was a breeze – no hassle with checking in two bags. Flight attendants were friendly and personable. There were pillows and blankets at every seat. And get this – on the flight from Newark to Atlanta – just 1-1/2 hours long, we were served lunch!

So I guess there is a lesson here. We can either accept this bad-service, charge-you-whatever-we-want-to-carry-your-bags attitude that United and U.S. Airways are now exhibiting, or we can do something about it. Like fly another airline.

Bottom line? The bags are in our court.

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