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What will airlines charge us for next?

Sitting on an American Airlines plane last week, I scored a blanket and pillow and it didn’t cost me $8.

Lucky for me, my flight wasn't on the list of flights that AA will start charging passengers for such comfort accoutrements until May 1.

Anyone else remember the days when you were done paying after you paid for the plane ticket? Now, we’ve got a fee for this, a fee for that, and then a surcharge for those fees. We’ve reached a point where you have to have your credit card more handy than your license or passport. That’s probably not the smartest thing.

Two years ago, airlines began charging bag fees to offset increased fuel costs. Well, fuel costs have dropped . . . and bag fees have gone up! (For the record, I’m totally in favor of bag fees, and anyone who has waited at a Southwest Airlines baggage claim should agree with me. Cute commercials, though.)

While sipping on a can of Coke that I didn’t have to cough up a nickel deposit for, I started thinking about what other fees airlines could dream up making their customers pay for on flights. Here are five ideas.

1) In-seat light: $1 an hour, and the light goes out when your time is up, unless of course you renew when the light blinks three times at the five-minute mark.

2) Overhead compartment space: It’s free to put stuff in there, but opening the compartment both in-flight and upon landing would cost $2 each time.

3) Ice: Hey, they keep the drinks refrigerated, and there’s a pending water shortage coming one day. Why not drop a quarter per ice cube?

4) Sit-down fees: Don’t laugh. I once checked into a hotel in Las Vegas, paid the $65 room rate, then had to pay a $1 room occupancy fee. “Are you serious?” I asked the hotel checker-inner. “Let me get this straight. I just paid you 65 bones, and now I have to give you one more dollar for the right to have paid you 65 bucks less than 30 seconds ago?”

5) Bathrooms: Gotta go No. 1? Hope you’ve got a few bucks. Gotta go No. 2? Hope you’ve got a lot of bucks. (Several McDonald’s in NYC has been known to stick people for money to use their bathrooms.)

And here are four things I’d be more than happy to see airlines start charging travelers:

1) Cut the line pass: Walking in front of everyone at bag drop or the security gate is absolutely worth $20-30.

2) iPod charger: When you forget your charger at home, do you really want to get stuck listening to airline radio? No, you don’t. Trust me. Here’s $10 for the flight.

3) Idiot fees for big ol’ carry-ons: You know what I’m talking about here, people. You’ve seen ’em. They’re the ones who block everyone from getting to their seats because they’re so busy trying to cram their entire closet and attic into the overhead space. Stick these folks for double bag fees, on principle.

4) In-flight debit cards: We know why airlines don’t accept cash on flights (they don’t trust flight attendants). But selling pre-paid gift cards to be used only on flights could be a nice financial boon. They would make for solid gifts and stocking stuffers. They could expire after one year, and then they could charge customers a $5 renewal fee if there’s money still left.


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