Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flying in the "Free Market"

cartel
noun
an association of independent commercial or industrial enterprises with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition
Remember last summer when all the major American airlines started charging $15 extra to check a bag? The reason given at the time was the high price of oil and aviation fuel. Now the price of oil is down again, but the higher prices remain.

What are you, the "free market" consumer, supposed to do? 

Use airlines that don't charge the new fees? Well, you apparently have two airlines to chose from, JetBlue and Southwest. I hope they fly to your destination city. And serve your point of origin. Are you going to cut back on frivolous flights to teach the airlines a lesson? Well, who takes frivolous flights these days anyway? People fly for major life events for which they'll pay whatever it takes.

No, we will pay the new fees because the airline corporations tell us to. Our society has been built up around the assumption that middle class people will be able to fly around the country when they need to. At Christmas, we will fly to see grandma, we'll pay the baggage fee, and on the plane we'll pay for a sip of water and some peanuts. If next year the prices double or the airlines charge an extra fee for seats where rusty, broken springs don't stick in our butts, we'll pay those too. 

We'll pay whatever they ask, because we have to fly and our options are limited. 

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Actually, on some airlines, you already have to pay extra for "prime" seats. Like the emergency exit row. Or the front.

Money can get you anything!!!!

Amy said...

I agree wholeheartedly! This kind of thing just frustrates me to no end. We just pay what they tell us to, cause we have no choice. That and the fact that on many domestic flights, the staff kind of treat you with contempt if you ask any question or have any type of need. And actually, I think the airlines that don't charge all that extra stuff are actually doing better, aren't they? Like Southwest.

Becky said...

I still think we should have let them go bankrupt after 9/11. It would have been rough, but something else would have come up. And what have they done since that bailout? Dumped jobs, dumped pensions, nickeled and dimed us, and generally sucked hard.

Better Than Machines said...

I think we treat struggling big corporations in almost the worst way possible. We prop them up with public money, so that they can continue to generate private profits and exercise private control over our society. We subsidize private privilege.

I say, if a big corporation is going to take a tumble, we let it fall and "bail out" the people who are most adversely affected by it. Or, we take public control of it, spreading the burden of the hard times as widely as possible, while exercising democratic control over the company. And if/when things turn around for the company, the profits are also spread around as widely as possible.

Seems like a no brainer, but during much of our history, such talk would get you arrested.