Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

Perhaps you, like me, are becoming increasingly disenchanted with airlines.

Perhaps you, like me, are beginning to suspect that they're not run by sentient humans anymore, but by robotic creations that even Silicon Valley rejected for being too cold and calculating.

Airlines' constant nickel-and-diming seems to have a captor's laughter attached to it.

It's as if you're strapped to a hard-seated chair, as a mean being sniggers and tells you all the nasty things he can do to you if you don't cooperate.

It's not enough, it seems, for airlines to charge you extra for sitting next to your own children.

They've now found a new scheme to make your cranium explode with fury.

As Time magazine reports, wise entities such as British Airways, American Airlines, and their so-called alliance have just instituted a new baggage fee.

You thought it wasn't possible for baggage fees to get any more gouge-y?

Please imagine then, that these fine entities will now charge you not one checked baggage fee, but an extra checked baggage fee if you're connecting to another flight.

Hey, I slapped you once and it was fun. Surely it'll be more fun if I slap you twice, no?

To make this new charge even more joyous, some carriers are forcing passengers to collect their bags first, then check-in again for their connecting flight so that they can be charged the new baggage fee in person.

British Airways' slogan is "To Fly, To Serve." American Airlines' slogan is "Going for Great."

Some might conclude that their involvement in such a baggage fee heist means they should combine their slogans: "Going to Serve Ourselves to Great Profits."

You will be (marginally) relieved that this second baggage charge doesn't apply if you book both your flights on the same ticket.

But if you happen to find a cheaper fare on a separate ticket, then into the stocks you go for an additional flogging.

It's not even as if these airlines are the first to enjoy this ruse. Star Alliance has employed it since last year.

A One World spokesman told Time that the extra fees are needed because separate bookings for connecting flights cause problems in baggage delivery and transfers.

American also says it will levy just one charge for in-alliance passengers, but not on those outside the alliance.

But you thought that now that everything is digitized, services should become cheaper, not more expensive.

Why is it that one imagines that baggage delivery and transfers cause slightly fewer problems than they elicit opportunities for, Hey, we can make some more money here?

What these airlines seem not to realize--you're going to tell me they don't care much, aren't you?--is that this constant nibbling for an extra dollar sours their brands.

The small gestures that used to define excellent service, the ones that encourage repeat business? Why bother?

Of course, the worst part of all this is that passengers have now come to see these grubby fees as the norm. What's one more?

It's like the reluctant acceptance that execrable wine from your hotel mini-bar will always cost a Chateauneuf-du-Pape price.

They do it because they can. We accept it because we think we have no other choice.

It's rare for a business to give customers less and charge them ever more, just because it thinks they're captive.

When there isn't enough competition, all airlines seem to bathe in the glory of ever rising profits.

Last year, airlines made $26 billion profit (after taxes, that is). That's up from $2.3 billion in 2010.

Guess how much they made out of baggage fees in 2015? $3.8 billion.

It's just not enough, is it?

Published on: Jul 10, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.