On Friday, August 31, United Airlines sparked outrage by becoming the second major airline to hike their baggage fees to $30 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second. They made their announcement in what is considered by many to be the "bad news dump-time" of the media cycle: late on Friday, when everyone is about to step out of work for the weekend and, presumably, pay a little less attention to their headlines.
That wasn't the only indication that United knew its decision was going to be unpopular, however. They also prepared for inevitable complaints from customers at airports, and even went so far as to give their employees a script to read when confronted by an angry customer.
The script would be funny if it wasn't so transparently awful.
If you complain about higher checked bag fees on @united — they increased to $30 on Friday — here is the script air… https://t.co/R7Xd21pvPM— Brian Sumers (@Brian Sumers)1535733319.0
United's script begins:
We just announced new baggage fees on August 31. This is actually the first time in eight years we are making an adjustment to some of our checked baggage fees.
They go on:
Our hope is to reinvest in a more enjoyable and caring flight experience for you and all of our customers.
To summarize, United claims it's raising its baggage fees so they'll have more money to make our flights more "enjoyable and caring."
While that's a noble goal, it's also one United could undertake with the profits its already collecting from exorbitant ticket fees.
Also, Twitter has its doubts United will be making any "enjoyable" changes at all:
@pizzainmotion @BrianSumers There is no hope. United will reinvest to CEO bonus— Nikolay Klimchuk (@Nikolay Klimchuk)1535733515.0
@BrianSumers @WandrMe @united Like investing in smaller bathrooms, uncomfortable seats and less seat pitch to cram… https://t.co/9kxGOndMI0— Scott Hamilton (@Scott Hamilton)1535741922.0
@BrianSumers @united If they wanted to "reinvest" then why are the seat spaces getting smaller? Record profits has… https://t.co/M70BbEilFu— Robb Birkhead (@Robb Birkhead)1535745802.0
@BrianSumers @RunwayGirl @united Just how on earth does @united come up with such a ludicrous idea that by raising… https://t.co/HcqpUoSAwK— guillaume oo_kapi (@guillaume oo_kapi)1535779626.0
You may remember, the last time United raised its baggage fees was eight years ago, in response to the rising costs of fuel. Their logic was that fuel cost more and, therefore, it cost more to fly a plane and, therefore, they needed to charge more money for the same services they've been providing since the advent of air travel.
Glad to see the #greed continues among our #airlines. Making billions in ridiculous #fees is not enough? You rememb… https://t.co/2Hr5fQhELk— Daniel Patrick (@Daniel Patrick)1535805049.0
Since, 2010, however, the cost of fuel has been going down! Did United respond by lowering prices? Oh no. The opposite, it would seem.
It seems some employees are already using the script:
There is nothing worse in air travel than baggage fees. But still, @united has the gaul to release this utterly pat… https://t.co/ir5ekK0Jd8— Aaron Craig, J.D. esq. (@Aaron Craig, J.D. esq.)1536082754.0
What's next for United Airlines? We wouldn't be surprised...
@cbschicago I'm told you will also be charged for the oxygen you breath on the flight, so you might want to bring a… https://t.co/cj6GHUXOdL— Robert Johnson (@Robert Johnson)1535750300.0