Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Check Your Attitude

No commenter has ever gotten sore at me, which suggests I'm an affable guy, writing about safe subjects. I try to leave out politics and whining, and most people like that. But in this post, I will depart from my usual lyrical musings and try diligently to torque someone off. 

Before I go there, I hope you have read the comments about the Dreamliner in the last post. Some are funny, and others informative and insightful.

I think it's time to get real about this uproar going on concerning airlines' charging for checked bags. The major carriers―excluding the one that only flies domestic-only B737s―are now charging between $15 and $25 for the first checked bag, which may not exceed 50 pounds. NOT FAIR! you say. Until recently you have always been able to check your bag free. That must be a birthright. I decided to quantify the issue and see if there was a different viable perspective.

Consider this: You have a 50 pound bag you want to ship from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Here are your most popular options. If you pay Delta $25, the bag will ride in the same plane with you and will arrive in Los Angeles as you arrive. WOAH! You cry. They might lose my bag! Yes, they might. According to the latest DOT data, you have a one tenth of one percent chance (.01%) that your bag will not appear on the carousel but will be delivered to the door of your choice later on the day of your arrival or the next day. 
Lets assume you neither want to pay that outrageous amount
nor take such a colossal risk of losing your bag for one day. So, you decide to ship it via another means. UPS is ready to take it for the casual sum of
$308. TOO MUCH! you decry. You call Fedex and find they will gladly fly it to LA for you for only $181, but you'll have to reduce its weight down to 30 pounds. Oh yes, and both of them will deliver it to your door―the next day. 

Of course there is always that stalwart standby: Greyhound bus. They'll get it there in 2 days, 2 hours, and 20 minutes, for only $57.85. Not bad.

Now, let's take this a step further. You are interested in shipping not your bag, but your body, in it present status, from ATL to LAX. What will that set you back? Here are a few options:

Greyhound will get you there in the aforementioned 2 days, 2 hours and 20 minutes for $219 ($167 if you get a non-refundable fare.) The good news: They don't charge for your accompanied bag! And the camaraderie among your fellow riders is unsurpassed.

Amtrak—that's the government-run choo-choo―will get you there in 22 hours for only $414 (That's in a coach seat. Add $283 if you want a place to sleep.)

The nation's premier low-cost carrier does not operate out of Atlanta, so you would consider Delta for its non-stop service to LAX. They will get you there in 4 hours and 30 minutes for $477. But don't forget to budget an extra 25 bucks for that checked bag. Scoundrels.
P.s. I don't work for Delta.