How The Travel Industry Enhances Your Choices

Let’s say you own a business that sells a product or service, which comes with certain features. Maybe your blueberry muffins have icing or your manicures include a hand massage.

Now, let’s say you decide to charge extra for the icing or the hand massage without dropping the price of the cupcake or manicure. What is this called?

a) a price increase

b) nickel-and-diming

c) enhanced choice

If you answered C, you must work in the travel industry, where the positive spin on the bad news is positively dizzying of late.

Take Midwest Airlines, which has ripped out some of the roomiest coach seats in the business and replaced them with a standard knee-busting 32-inch seat pitch. “Our customers have told us they want a choice of seating, and Midwest Class enables us to respond to their needs,” said Randall K. Smith, Midwest Airlines’ vice president of sales and distribution.

Did someone actually express a need for less leg room? Were masochists not being properly served? 

Or take Carnival Cruise Lines, which announced it will “resegment” its cabins and charge extra for preferred locations and minor conveniences. “Guests can now choose staterooms that best meet their needs,” the company announced to travel agents.

Wait, aren’t these exactly the same staterooms we could choose from before? Except now some of them cost more?

In an internal memo, United Airlines referred to cutbacks in meal service and snacks under the title Catering Changes Provide Value and Options (doublespeak that earned it a  Cranky Jackass award) and improved it only slightly with the public announcement that United Tests Food Choices in Business and Economy.

Seems the choice here is to pay for food or go hungry. This is an improvement?

Dudes. You might as well tell it straight. We’re not that stupid. 


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