How far will an airline go to cut costs? Two airlines—Ryanair based in Dublin—and Spirit Airways based in Florida vie for the title as the world’s cheapest airlines. But, meanwhile, they’re both quite profitable.
Ryanair invented checked-luggage charges. It charges a fee for using a credit card to buy a ticket—that’s per person, per flight. At $8 a head, that means a family of four would pay $64 simply for using a credit card to pay for their round-trip ticket.
Recently, Ryanair decided to print its magazine on thinner paper and reduced the amount of ice it loads on planes to cut fuel costs. And it asked its flight attendants to lose weight.
Spirit Airlines isn’t far behind—it has no in-flight magazine, and if you don’t pre-pay $45 to reserve space in an overhead luggage bin, you’ll pay as much as $100 at the airport for the privilege. Oh, and up to $5 for the airline to print your boarding pass.
But guess what? The airlines are both very profitable. Only two US airlines have made more than Spirit’s $289 million since ’08: Alaska and Southwest.
The moral of this Travel Minute: There’s profit in penny pinching.
This past March, Bedouin gunmen kidnapped Brazilian tourists in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In India, Maoists set conditions for the release of two abducted Italian tourists. And on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, security was increased after five suspected terrorist were shot dead in a police raid.
Should we all just stay home?
Some travelers, upon hearing these stories, may vow to cross Egypt, India, and Bali off their travel lists. But would you avoid visiting New York City, Washington, DC, or Oklahoma City because of the horrendous attacks that have taken place in those cities?
Would you avoid Toulouse, France, or Norway because of the much-publicized killings that have taken place there?
I believe random bad things happen whether you live in Duluth, Sandusky, or Boston. You and I have better odds of winning the Powerball lottery than becoming the target of terrorists.
So, please, don’t let those stories keep you at home. Remember that often-used phrase during the Bush administration—“Don’t let the terrorists win”? I agree with that. And, by the way that phrase grew not out of 9/11 but the domestic terrorist attack in Oklahoma City in 1995 that claimed 168 lives.
Airline fees get all the press. When Spirit Airlines announced it would up the fee it assesses for putting a piece of carry-on luggage in an overhead rack from $45 to as much as $100, the story got national attention. But what about hotel fees?
Take the very nice Aria hotel in Las Vegas. It tacks on a $25 extra resort fee to guests. Mind you, that doesn’t mean you can use the entire health club at no charge—that’s an optional $30 charge. A guest at the hotel in Vegas called simply “THE Hotel,” wrote to tell me he’d protested a $20 daily fee that was supposed to cover Wi-Fi, which wasn’t working when he was there. The hotel wouldn’t remove the charge and suggested the guest use the computer in a business center . . . which costs $30 an hour to use.
What’s do hotels get out of these fees besides extra income? Like airlines, they get to post rates on hotel rate-comparison sites that look more favorable against the competition than they may really be.
It’s time hotels include fees in the price of a room if, indeed, that IS the room price.
Baseball season is in full swing, but the price of tickets to major league games can be very high. Maybe it’s time to consider minor and independent league games.
All over these United States—from Bluefield, WVA, to Bakersfield, CA– there are baseball teams whose tickets are priced to sell and whose games can often be a lot more fun than the big leagues.
Creative promotions, more interaction between players and fans, and the chance to see players who might someday make it to The Big Show are all reasons to consider taking the family to a minor or independent league game.
How do you find about teams as you travel around the US? Trust Bob Carson who for 22 years has published his twice-a-year, authoritative newsletter called Minor Trips Newsletter. He’ll send you the most recent copy for free if you tell him Rudy sent you.
You can check it out as his website, or just email him and tell him at MinorTrips@aol.com and tell him you heard about his newsletter from Rudy Maxa. It’s almost as much fun to read as it is to attend a game. Not quite, but almost.
One of the interesting factoids to come out of all the hoopla over the 100th anniversary of the launching—and sinking—of the Titanic last month was this: There’s no rule in maritime law that says women and children should occupy lifeboats before men.
It’s one of those sayings you sort of grow up with, “Women and children first!” And perhaps like me, you thought that was simply a rule of law on the high seas.
Turns out it may be the polite way to do things, but there’s nothing saying that’s the way things have to go down. And not only that, history indicates the Titanic was an exception in that regard because the ship’s captain threatened to shoot men who didn’t yield to women when it came to climbing in the lifeboats.
Two Swedish economists studied 18 of the world’s most famous maritime disasters and found that captains in only five of those tragedies made the rescue of women and children a priority. Not only that, but you the captain-goes-down-with-the-ship line? Overall, captains and their crew are 18.7 percent more likely to survive a shipwreck than their passengers.