Northwest Airlines Charges for Air

In an announcement that is sure to stir up plenty of press this week, Northwest Airlines just announced that it will charge an extra $15 for seats in the exit row or at the front of the coach cabin, facing the bulkhead. In essence, they’re charging for more legroom, charging for empty space.

On the one hand, this smacks of once again trying to wring out more revenue out of something that used to be free. On the other hand, those seats have either been the luck of the draw or have gone to elite frequent flyers, so you could argue that this is a fairer system. Anyone who is over six feet will probably gladly pay the extra to be assured of getting more legroom.

But what’s next? At some point will we have to pay more to sit beside a skinny person? Will seats beside a crying baby be discounted? Can I pay extra to choose a hot-looking seatmate from a database?

I just hope this doesn’t apply to those tuna cans they call “regional jets.” Every seat in those sucks no matter where you are, so paying an extra $15 for anything is a rip-off.

  1. Robert

    Good luck Northwest… if the other airlines are smart, they won’t follow. This is the middle of the end for Northwest… a desperate attempt at revenue gaining on the already broken backs of the traveling public. Charging to sit in an exit row??? I thought the criteria there was your ability and willingness to help in an emergency and be able to open the emergency door… not your ability to shell out an extra $15! Since Northwest is thinking they are so smart, start discounting seats behind the center exit row for “noise pollution” and even more of a discount for seats “near” a lavatory, oh and by the way… all those middle seats need to damn well nearly be free. You can’t have it both ways Northwest… I hope you go under (out of business) frankly at this point. Its a pointless airline.

  2. Amy

    Discount fares to stay competitive have gone on too long and have been one of the many factors that have cost individuals their jobs in the airline industry including my own. If an individual can pay $100+ on airfare and purchase food at the airport, $15 shouldn’t break the bank. If coach seats do not fit your criteria there are always the larger seats in business class. If individuals are crying over $15 then I couldn’t imagine anyone shelling out the extra money to be seated in business class. If anyone can come up with a comprehensive plan to help the airline industry and the high fuel costs, I invite you to do so. And Robert have you flown recently? The days of glamorous flying are long gone. The last thing we need in the US is 40,000+ people out of a job. Always remember you are free to fly other airlines and I encourage you to do so! And I do believe all of the major airlines have followed suit if I am not mistaken.

  3. travelexpert

    Northwest Air is a funeral. This is it for them. Why would I pay for an aisle seat on a mediocre US airline when I can avoid this hassle by flying on any other airline. You are right tim. The others would be very smart to stay away and just watch Northwest jump from the ledge to their deaths. Management geniuses at work

  4. Passnger

    Must be a laid off employee! Besides currenlty there are other airlines that do this and have made lots of money off of it. ie People will pay for it.

  5. Tim L.

    Like I said, there are two sides to this. But Virgin is the only airline I’m aware of that has gotten away with charging more for an exit row seat, and they are truly a full-service airline, unlike any in the U.S. “Glamorous flying” does still exist, you just have to fly a foreign airline to see it. (My recent South African Airways flight made one on Northwest or Delta look like a chicken bus.) In response to employee #2, it’s bad management and poor strategic planning that have really hurt the U.S. legacy airlines, not just external factors such as fuel costs. A flight on Southwest or JetBlue is more direct, has better amenities, and has a more cheeful staff. Yet they’re still cheaper most of the time. What’s wrong with this picture?

  6. Nishanth

    Discount airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest have proven that airlines can be successful without offering the frills and first class seats that many of the old-line airlines found so indispensable. Discount airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest have proven that airlines can be successful without offering the frills and first class seats that many of the old-line airlines found so indispensable.

    The past few decades have seen an incredible revolution in the world of the airline industry. Low cost and discount airlines took the industry by storm with their focus on getting their passengers to their chosen destinations with no frills and the least expense possible.

    Low Cost air carriers:

    As a matter of fact, for the past several years the low cost air carriers have been the only ones able to turn a profit. While many traditional airlines are struggling to make a profit, Southwest and Jet Blue have been profitable almost from their inception.

    In addition, low cost airlines have helped to lower prices across the board in the airline industry. When a low cost air carrier starts flying out of a specific destination, the traditional airlines often have little choice but to lower their prices in response to the new competition.

    This has helped make air travel affordable for a large segment of the population that had never before been able to take advantage of the option of flying.

    When low cost airlines first began operations, they kept costs lower primarily by cutting out the extras; anything that did not focus directly on getting passengers where they were going on time was cut back or eliminated.

    For instance, where traditional air carriers served entire meals, low cost carriers offered bags of peanuts or boxes of snacks. Most low cost carriers also cut out movies and entertainment on their flight, although low cost Jet Blue was the first to offer live television on their planes for a low fee.

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  7. Dave

    I stopped flying Northwest last August after the mechanics struck, even though I am one of their “silver elite” members, having logged 25,000 miles during the year. I was upset by the fact that Northwest executives were sharing a million-dollar bonus while trying to cut their mechanics’ pay and jobs, so it was a matter of principle with me. I canceled my Northwest tickets to my daughter’s Labor Day wedding in San Jose, and took Continental instead. Much to my surprise, and delight, Continental gave me pillows, blankets, peanuts, a movie, and even a hot sandwich on the flight from Detroit to Houston and from Houston to San Jose, at a slightly lower fare than Northwest. I have concluded that Northwest not only treats its employees badly, but doesn’t keep up with the level of service offered by some other “legacy” airlines.

  8. Brett

    Personally I see nothing wrong with charging more for _any_ seats. Airlines use price discrimination so blatantly, I can’t imagine why anyone could get upset over a measly $15.
    Why not charge more for aisles, windows, exit rows, rows with a better view of a tv screen, etc.? Allow people decide how bad they need these features.
    I, for one, would gladly pay an extra, say, $20 for a window seat on a red-eye flight. And someone else may gladly put up with sitting in the middle in exchange for an extra $20.

    I see this as an advantage, as it gives more flexibility to the customer.

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