When I’m at a restaurant with a group of people, often times there is a discussion on the best way to split the bill. It always seems that the person who had the most expensive meal suggests that we simply split the bill evenly to make it easy. This makes perfect sense from his perspective. If each member in the group pays the same amount, those that choose less expensive meals will end up subsidizing his meal and making it cheaper while they don’t get the benefit of paying less since they ordered a less expensive meal. If you have ever been in a situation like this, my guess is that you weren’t too happy when that person made the “split the bill evenly” suggestion.
This is why I find it interesting that so many people hate airline baggage fees. The vast majority of airlines charge an extra fee for baggage these days. Only Southwest and Jetblue don’t charge for a first bag (and only Southwest doesn’t charge for a second bag), so there’s a good chance that you will run into the possibility of having to pay a baggage fee if you fly in the US. The thinking of most people is that the baggage fee (or any other fee) should be part of the airline price so they don’t have to pay any more than the ticket price. Essentially, they are arguing that the bill at the restaurant should be split evenly no matter what each person orders.
I, on the other had, can see that baggage fees (and specific other optional airline fees) are actually to the advantage of the passenger. These fees exist because the airline industry is so competitive that airline tickets are basically at the lowest price possible. If individual fees like the baggage fee didn’t exist, then the price of tickets would have to be more expensive for all. You have a choice as to whether you pay the baggage fee whereas you wouldn’t have this choice it if was already included in the airline ticket price.
When you look at if from this perspective, airline fees quickly become a good thing. Instead of paying more for an airline ticket, I can pick and choose those things I’m willing to pay for and those I’m not. For people who know how to travel light (like me) or have learned to pack well (video), they simply don’t pay a baggage fee. In the same way, I choose not to pay for food when I fly (I bring my own snacks for the trip).
So the next time you see all the optional airline fees on top of your ticket listed, don’t get angry or upset. Remember the dinner with friends analogy and view the fees as a challenge to avoid as many as you can knowing that by doing so, you’re getting the best airline price possible.