Baggage fees? Not for the man who created them
Consultant John Thomas' idea is credited with saving the airlines, but he flies on a private plane.
Meet the man behind one of the most reviled moves of the airline industry: 54-year-old John Thomas, the airline consultant who devised the checked luggage fee.
Thomas' idea may have saved some airlines from insolvency, but it has also set off grumbling among the roughly 732 million people who fly commercially in the U.S. each year.
But luggage fees aren't something that Thomas himself deals with. That's because he flies on a seven-passenger Cessna Citation jet, according to The Boston Globe. If Thomas has to travel on a commercial airline, he uses only a carry-on, bypassing the checked-luggage fees.
"Oops," he told the Globe, when the publication pointed out the irony to him. Thomas said he learned to fly after high school and started a small airline while a university student in Australia.
Thomas' notion is credited with generating $3 billion a year for the airlines, money that has helped keep some companies aloft. He first came up with the idea in 2006 for a Canadian airline, then trotted out the plan when a U.S. airline, which Thomas said he couldn't identify, was searching for new revenue streams.
"I would credit bag fees with saving the industry that year," Jay Sorensen, president of travel consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany, told The Globe.
While it may have saved the airlines, it's one reason why consumers increasingly hate flying. Passenger satisfaction dropped last year, with travelers vexed about checked bag fees, according to J.D. Power.
Thomas, who works for London-based consulting firm LEK Consulting, isn't done yet with drumming up new revenue ideas for the airlines. Want an empty seat next to yours? Pay $100. That's one option Thomas has advised a British airline about. He also has an idea for gambling with frequent-flier miles, given that online gambling regulations are being loosened.
"Think of it as being in the mall with nothing to do, and there's a blizzard outside, so you're stuck in the mall for five hours." he told The Globe. "That’s probably worth another $5 billion."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Flying is a waste of time and money, in my opinion, unless you're going overseas. Last time I flew to Las Vegas from Denver, it took nearly 10 hours between travel time to the airport, arriving early for long security lines, flight time, and waiting for bags and a taxi.
The time to drive is approximately 11 hours. I would much rather be on the open road and support local restaurants and gas stations than hand over money to poorly run airlines. Everything about air travel is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and overly expensive.
We need to be in less of a rush these days and take our time to view the country up close instead of hurling toward the destination 20,000 feet up in the air.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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