Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Air Travel: A potential new high in low

Restroom ransom? Airline mulls toilet toll: The head of budget European airline Ryanair unleashed a flood of indignation and potty humor Friday when he suggested that future passengers might be obliged to insert a British pound coin for access to the lavatory to get some in-flight relief.

Airline chief Michael O'Leary suggested that installing pay toilets would lower ticket costs and make flying, somehow, easier for all.
The new breed of touchy-feely-sensitive-to-the-rabble corporate executives is once more showing its unmanly weakness. Tolls on airplane rest rooms? Is that the best you can do Michael O'Leary? That's like feasting on the corpses of widows and orphans and leaving behind their bone marrow, hair and teeth. Is there anything more quaint and endearing than a rube European corporate executive?

If airlines were truly interested in making money, there are a number of financial, extortionary tools they have yet to utilize.

For instance, stop pressuring the planes and make passengers pay for their oxygen.

Also, make passengers pay for the use of their seat belts, much the same way grocery stores do with carts. In the airlines' case, however, it would take a credit card to activate the seat belt, rather than merely a quarter. I realize, most passengers would love to avoid wearing their seat belts on flights and that this may not be the revenue-generator I propose it to be. That brings me to the next cost-savings idea:

Hire terrible pilots who are willing to work for minimum wage. Not only would the airline save on wages and benefits, but these horrible pilots would instill the fear and need in passengers to start buckling up whenever the plane is in motion.

For international flights -- true air travel money pits -- a form of "musical chairs" could be played. Utilizing the seat belt credit card swipe mechanisms, some ice-cream-truck hybrid of everyone's favorite song "Pop Goes the Weasel" could be played several times during each international flight, indicating to passengers (after flight attendant explanation at the start of the flight) to insert their credit cards. If a passenger's credit card runs out of money, a Plexiglas cylinder would lower upon them from the ceiling -- activation of which would automatically nullify payment on the seat belt, thus freeing the passenger -- and suck them out of the plane, jettisoning them into the air to fend for themselves. If no one's credit card fails, the airline has successfuly slurped up some extra revenue. If a passenger's credit card runs out of cash mid-flight, their expulsion would serve as an active lesson to all about the importance of maintaining funds on credit cards.

So, nice try by little Mikie O'Leary with his quaint toll-on-the-rest-room idea. Hell, it could be just one more revenue-generating tool on any flight. However, long experience has taught veteran airline executives that this financial tool, at least, could be easily defeated by milkshake, male retirees who are jaded and savvy when it comes to pinching pennies. Test marketing of the in-flight pay toilet scheme was easily defeated predominately by old men who had no qualms about making use of air sickness bags in ways not intended by the airline. Suffice it to say, these old men will do virtually anything to save a buck, making some believe there are more retired corporate executives among the populace than researchers initially believed.

No comments: