It was just a matter of time. First, most airlines started charging $25 for checking a second bag. Then, some started sticking it to you for checking one bag. Now, no more pretzels or cookies to economy class passengers on United Airlines flights starting September 2nd.
Then, on October 1st, another cost-cutting measure: no more free lunches in domestic Business Class (except for premium transcon flights from SFO or LAX to New York City airports). These changes are in the name of the “cost reduction and revenue-generating opportunities”, according to a United memo.
It reads: “In the wake of high fuel prices and a challenging economic environment, we must continue to examine every aspect of our business and find new ways to improve our day-to-day operations through efficiencies that still meet our customers’ expectations.”
A United spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski in Chicago, adds: “These are difficult but necessary changes. We are looking at everything we need to do to offset fuel prices, which are still skyrocketing.”
Coming up. Prepare yourself for buy-on-board meals for international economy class on flights from Washington-Dulles to Europe.
Is this all a big mistake to save money? I think so. So does Henry Harteveldt, an airline industry analyst at Forrester Research in San Francisco. He says, “These moves are flat-out stupid. The savings they will get doing away with lunch in business class — they will lose more than that when corporations yank business.
“The challenging thing about business is that whether things are good or bad, you have to invest in your product for the sake of keeping customers and to make it harder for competitors to catch up with you. This does nothing to encourage people to pay more because you give more. They really make me question whether the inmates have taken control of the asylum.”