Not so cuddly: $7 pillow-blanket combo

The Baltimore Sun

The pilot and crew of US Airways Flight 1549 - the "Miracle on the Hudson" heroes - were making the media rounds last week, from 60 Minutes to Larry King Live to New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the pilot the keys to the city. They certainly deserve it.

But while the crew has been in the spotlight, their employer has quietly added yet another new fee for their passengers. One we certainly don't deserve.

Tomorrow, US Airways will begin charging fliers $7 for a pillow and blanket. It's a package deal that includes eyeshades and foam ear plugs in a drawstring bag. It's called the Power-Nap Sack and it's reusable. Yea!

Even if it's not as surprising as a water-landing on an icy river, the fee is still annoying. JetBlue is the only other airline that sells blankets, but many airlines, including US Airways, already charge for drinks, checked bags and some seat reservations. If they could figure out a way to charge for parachutes and oxygen masks, they would. (Now what would Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger say about that?)

The trend, called a la carte pricing, began in earnest last year and it's boosting their bottom line. US Airways scored $100 million in revenue from service fees in the fourth quarter, according to a report in the Arizona Republic. And the airline expects in 2009 the fees will bring in $400 million to $500 million. Who's gonna give that up? (Please don't let Southwest see these numbers.)

I say BYOB - bring your own blanket (or Snuggie) - and deny them even the slightest revenue lift. Of course, I'd gladly pay a fee to fly with Capt. Sully and his crew.

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