3:52 PM

America[n] Has Been
Pushed Over the Edge

As the oil thugs succeed at slowly killing off the American Dream, crude oil has now gone off the charts at $135 a barrel with no signs of that insanity abating any time soon. This worldwide theft of our money by the oil producing countries and the Big Oil cronies smells more and more like an organized plot to steal what little wealth the middle class has left so the greedy one percenters here and in the Middle East can afford to buy diesel fuel for their mega-yachts and BBJs.

If the American Big Oil companies weren't making record profits, I might actually have believed one word of the testimony from their Executives on Capitol Hill yesterday. But profit is not a hard concept to grasp, you buy low, sell high and pocket the difference. Its the same for gasoline or tomatoes. So if the oil companies were being honest with us, they would be charging us a fair amount to make a fair profit, and regular gas would not be $4.00 a gallon. But the minute they bank those record profits and then try to blame it on the Saudis, it is all the evidence anyone with a brain needs to see that Bushie's oil buddies are simply raising the price as high as they can as fast as they can before his lame duck term ends, the investigation begins and Big Oil heads begin to roll.
None of this is making it any easier to be a scheduled airline today in the U.S., and recently, American pushed us all straight over the edge with this, reported everywhere including msnbc.com:
"American Airlines, the nation’s largest carrier, will start charging $15 for the first checked bag, cut domestic flights and lay off possibly thousands of workers as it grapples with record-high fuel prices. American said Wednesday the fee for the first checked bag starts June 15 and that it would raise other fees for services ranging from reservation help to oversized bags. The other fees will mostly range from $5 to $50 per service, the airline said. Its proposed fee for a first checked bag would exempt people who belong to elite levels of its frequent flyer programs, those who bought full-fare tickets and those traveling overseas."
It's that "raise other fees for services" line in the above pull quote that should scare any air traveler. With the carriers on the ropes, here are a few other things we might soon see as possible revenue generation streams from U.S. domestic carriers if this trend continues:
Use of the lavatory: There will be a credit card swiping device outside the bathroom door so you can quickly pay for leaving your "deposit" with the airlines. Press 1 for "#1" and pay a paltry $2.99, but press 2 for "#2" and expect a $7.99 debit to your card. Oh, you want toilet tissue, press "yes" at that prompt and add $1.00 for 10 sheets (for the ladies) or $12.95 for the whole roll for the men.

A cup of lukewarm soda: See that beverage cart...think "revenue stream". Soda: $3.00, cup, .50 cents, and ice, $1.25. Coffee? Fuggitabowdit, the Starbucks that was free last flight is $5.75 for black, add .50 cents for "cream" and .39 cents for your choice of sweeteners.

A pillow for your aching head: To try and get some sort of rest in steerage, you might opt for the "pillow-like" device, $4.00 with fresh paper cover, or for a little warmth, choose the "blanket" made of the world's thinnest fibers at $9.99.

Listening to the in-flight audio: Whoa, big revenue available here. Try $5.99 for the flimsy headsets that were free on the last flight, and $3.99/hour to listen to canned music from the 80s. And on United, you could listen to ATC on channel 9, after you would pay the "ATC availability fee" of $9.95.

A magazine full of crazy stuff: Who doesn't love to pass the time on a boring flight by perusing Skymall Magazine? I never knew people needed a remote control dog washer or an automatic martini shaker that looks like a '50s diner-themed juke box. But don't pick that book up unless you want to add $3.95 to your flight total for a "publication rental" fee.

Web check-in: In the next version of airline Bizarro World, they may tack on $12.50 for checking in via your computer. And scanning that paper e-ticket at the gate, prepare to have $2.79 ready to give the gate agent, exact change preferred.

Safety is never free: Don't know how to fasten a seat belt? What a moron. But there still must be some of you out there because the carriers force the seat belt instructions down our throat on every flight. So expect to soon pay $39.99 for the deluxe safety briefing, complete with your very own tacky, poorly illustrated safety briefing card. Why IS that guy bending over and grabbing his ankles anyway?

Does your kid STILL want to be an airline pilot? Face it, the best part of any flight for a kid is that brief moment when you get to walk by the open cockpit door and grab a fleeting glimpse inside as you exit the pressurized tube. If the pilot is a chum, he'll be at the exit door waiting for you to tell him/her that his/her landing was a greaser. This pilot meeting has always been free, but in the future, will you have to swipe that card again and shell out $14.99 to meet the Captain? And why spend that much dough when you can schmooze with the FO who still looks a lot like an airline pilot for $1.98.
Of course, this is just an exercise in imagination, a jaunt through Fantasy Land. But with no immediate relief from Big Oil, the airlines – just like you, me, the truckers and the working poor of this country – have no choice but to emulate that guy on the safety briefing card.

Today's new GOP slogan: Got Vaseline?

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