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Prediction: Short-sighted greed kills United Airlines

United just announced that they are charging passengers $25 to check a second bag. This is supposed to make them $100 million this year. 

It will also infuriate 4 million customers.  If 10% of those customer switch airlines – and they will – United loses $100 million this year. Plus they lose all future revenue from those customers.   

United already makes you pay extra to sit in the front of the plane.  They will fly the plane with 15 empty rows to enforce this policy. They make millions of dollars doing this.  But …

You should see the anger of fully-paid ticket holders being blackmailed at check-in for another $25 to get a good seat, even when they booked tickets months ago. You should feel the waves of fury from dozens of people in middle seats in the back of plane while the front flies empty. You should feel the embarrassment of flight attendants who are put in the horrible position of enforcing this policy. 

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  1. Sean Cheyney February 5, 2008 at 10:20 am #

    Couldn’t agree more. If given the option of flying American or United (both hometown Chicago airlines), American is now a clear winner.
    From a marketing / positioning standpoint, I’m curious if any airlines will exploit United’s move in their own favor.

  2. josh m February 5, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Next thing you know, United will turn the bathroom into a coin-operated device. And then you’ll have to pay an extra $25 for a window or aisle seat.

  3. Mark February 6, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    As long as the flying public choose airlines by price alone they will be subjected to these types of fees.
    Airlines ticket prices remain, on average, quite low and even these fees do not make a difference. Airlines are not a profitable business.
    Everyone now accepts the fact that, unless you pay business-class prices, you will be treated like cattle. Don’t expect the public or airlines to change their ways anytime soon.

  4. Andy Sernovitz February 6, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    I sooo disagree with this.
    Nice airlines are just as successful as rude airlines. Southwest, JetBlue, etc. There is no reason to “treat customers like cattle” in the name of profitability. And… long term, it will kill your profits.
    P.S. United is profitable.

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