Reading this article about how American Airlines is planning to charge $8 for a blanket on certain flights got me started on one of my favorite rants.
When did we start getting so angry with large businesses for trying to make a profit?
No, no… I get it. I know it’s bad form right now to approve of “Big Business,” what with all their greed and corruption and stealing from the little guy. But really, in what ways are they different from some of the smaller companies out there?
A friend emailed me that a local restaurant back home recently announced they were no longer offering free baskets of bread with each meal. You now have the option to pay $3 for the customary basket of fragrant, fresh baked bread. Patrons revolted! There was a huge backlash of anger at being denied free bread! The media was called! There might have been a petition. (My friend was horrified and vowed never to go there again.)
Why? Why would otherwise loyal customers be so incensed at losing something that was free – added value – no cost to them – nice to have but not essential to the overall enjoyment of the meal… but most likely important to the restuarant’s bottom line?
If they’d been given a choice of all menu items increasing $.50 vs paying for their bread, do you think that would have made a difference?
To me, this is a case of bad marketing, not bad business.
Let’s go back to the airline.
The airline industry as a whole suffered its worst drop in passenger revenue in 2009. Revenue fell 18%. Think about that kind of percentage drop in your revenue for your own business for just a minute. What would that do to your business? You’d most likely be looking for your $8 blanket, am I right?
Getting back to AA, would everyone be as upset and in an uproar if American Airlines had instead raised all their flights by $100, then offered discounts for selections?
Want to sit in a middle seat? Discount.
Only bringing carry on luggage? Discount.
Don’t mind three stops instead of non-stop? Discount.
Bringing your own blanket and pillow? Discount!
Watching your flight total come down based on your choices feels better than being charged extra … right? It does to me.
What do you think?