The domestic airline industry collected $887 million from baggage fees in the second quarter of this year.  Delta is collecting the most followed by American Airlines.  If you fly, you know what this has done to the boarding experience.

Airbus Luggage Compartment - by Mattes, Wikimedia Commons

To avoid the fees, more passengers are attempting to carry-on their luggage.  Frequently the overhead space is gone before all the passengers have boarded and the un-storable bags are surrendered to an agent to be checked.  It is not much fun to watch as those desperate to find a spot for their bags move against the flow of those passengers trying to find their seats.

I understand their pain even if the airlines do not.  I can remember when we even thought observations such as, “Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?” by Erma Bombeck were humorous.  Or when Mark Russell wrote, “The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.”

As the airline-provided boarding experience has deteriorated, in some ways the passenger-provided experience has stepped up.  On almost every flight, I see passengers willing to cramp their legroom to provide room for one more overhead bag.  I see passengers willing to shift their belonging to another location in order to allow more space.  I see countless men help those with less strength or height hoist their bags … my personal thanks to all of them.

What the airlines miss is that the “Enter” experience is critical in setting the tone for the remainder of the experience.  They lose positive experience points when they charge the fees and again when we board.  Relying on the passengers to fill in this gap doesn’t make much sense.

  • Where could your business be punishing its customers?
  • How could you find out?