Published on: March 4, 2013by Kevin Coupe
The question is, how much is too much? And at what point will consumers say, "Enough!"
The Los Angeles Times has a story about how a number of airlines - ranging from United to Southwest - are introducing new fees as a way of bolstering their bottom lines. (Fees contributed $36 billion to airlines' balance sheets last year.)
"Among the fees airlines have announced in the past few weeks are a charge to zip through airport screening gates and board early, a fee to watch streaming movies and a fee to have your bags delivered in 36 cities around the country," the Times writes.
United is the airline said to be charging fees for early boarding, a privilege that used to be saved for frequent flyers and people paying for first class or business tickets, while Southwest is charging one fee for Wi-Fi access and another for people who want to stream movies onto their laptops or tablet computers.
And while these moves may be seen as positive in the short-term for airlines, the question that remains to be answered is whether, in the long-term, they are damaging airlines' value propositions and their relationships with frequent flyers. Privileges used to be earned, which resulted in passengers - like the character played by George Clooney in Up In The Air - being loyal so they could get preferred boarding/seating advantages.
But now, in search of the short term buck, airlines are selling those advantages to the highest bidder. It remains to be seen whether they are really selling themselves short.
And in the same way, every retailer and marketer ought to be looking at its customer-impacting business decisions and evaluating whether the move sit is making to save money here or make money there might be hurting its long-range viability and sustainability.
- KC's View: