Spirit Airlines is taking a lot of heat for its latest move — charging for carry on bags. I will not add to that heat. In fact, I applaud them.
It is moronic to charge for checked bags while allowing passengers to bring on free carry on bags. Think about what you want from a flight, and what kind of behavior that you incentivize by giving free overhead bin space. Have you ever sat on the tarmac, waiting for a plane to take off because some stupid prole can’t figure out how to cram a 75 pound floral-print full sized suitcase into a carry on bin? Meanwhile some other jackass is trying to stuff a cardboard box full of god-knows-what tied together by string into his overhead bin. Meanwhile, the entire boarding procedure grinds to a halt because these cheapskate proles wouldn’t pay $20 to check their goddamned bags.
Carry on bags, being dragged down the aisles, crammed into overhead compartments, (usually by weaklings who packed too much shit) delay the boarding process – which adds to travel time for everyone and which makes the airline’s route less profitable. To make matters worse, old people and poor people move slower than regular people. Of course, these are also two kinds of people who are likely to want to avoid paying checked bag fees. So, you have the slowest and most annoying travelers incentivized to do something that will slow the entire process down (and increase costs) for everyone.
On the other hand, checked bags can be controlled by the airline. Although the handlers may beat the shit out of your bags, they at least place them in the airplane in an efficient and orderly fashion. The plane takes off on time.
Now, lets think about how charging for carry ons will change the flight experience. In fact, we don’t need to speculate. Ryan Air in Europe doesn’t charge for carry ons, but it does have overhead bins that are barely big enough for a lunch box. You need to check everything on Ryan Air, and thus Ryan Air flights board and discharge passengers with lightning speed efficiency. That means more flights per day, that means flights are on time more often, that means that you don’t have some slovenly fuck trying to cram a wildebeest into an overhead bin in row 12, while all the rest of the passengers stand on the jetway waiting for that one jackass to get out of the way.
That is behavior we want to discourage, but charging for checked bags has done just the opposite. Boarding times are now longer, and flights are delayed taking off more often, and overhead bin space is about as precious as unobtanium.
If all airlines charged more for bin space than for checked bag space, it would make flying just a little bit more pleasant.