NJ travel agent: Fliers are lucky they can still use the bathroom for free
BLOOMFIELD — Following reports of United Airlines' plans to create a new fare level and only allow access to overhead bins for fliers who put out more money, a New Jersey travel agent says she can't help but be vocal against airlines who continuously "beat her down."
Carol Piscitelli, president of Gemini Travel Agency, said passengers today are paying for basically everything that used to be free.
"I guess they're lucky that they're able to go to the bathroom," she told New Jersey 101.5FM.
United's new fare structure, scheduled to launch in early 2017, introduces a class known as Basic Economy. Carry-on bags are limited to one personal item that must be stowed underneath the passenger's seat. Also, fliers won't know their seats until check-in, and seating together is not guaranteed.
Regular economy seating will still be available, with access to the overhead bins, but the ticket will cost you more than those who opt out.
Piscitelli said this will obviously force people to get creative with their carry-on items so they can fit under the seat, but most passengers will just have to put out the extra money to store their luggage above. After all, they're going on a trip.
"It's just like around Christmastime and you want a Christmas tree. You'll take that last $10 to buy that Christmas tree for your family," she said.
United did not respond to a request for comment, but the company's Twitter feed indicates pricing details will be released in January.
Spirit Airlines, a considerably smaller operation, currently charges customers for carry-on bags.
Douglas Kidd, executive director of the National Association of Airline Passengers, said there aren't enough overhead bins on most airplanes. They can usually accommodate the luggage of about three-quarters of the plane's passenger capacity.
"I don't think they'll be any lower fares," Kidd said of United's plan. "I think it'll just cause more conflict and resentment at the airport and put a greater burden on both the flight crew and on the ground crew."
He notes an airline in England attempted to charge fliers for use of the restrooms, but the proposal was shot down.
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