$9 air fare - but it's more to actually go somewhere

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 5:36 PM

Great rejoicing over the news that we had another airline coming to town. Better yet, it leaves town, too.

We like Sun Country because it's local and sometimes they serve hot dogs, but they don't go everywhere. AirTran: an experience as romantic and exotic as the name itself. Delta -- well, many regard Delta as the southern strumpet who broke up the family, married dad, dumped him and now lives in his house.

Spirit's the newcomer, and the big surprise was the fare: $9.

Even though you suspect there's 37 feet of scrolling fine print on the website (Void on Earth; passenger may have to carry pig on lap), you can't help but look at your family, count 'em up and think: Wow, we can to go Hawaii for less than a trip to Perkins.

Of course, they don't go to Hawaii for $9, but they do offer to fly you to Chicago or Las Vegas for under 10 bucks.

How? Do they lash people together into bundles of six and store them on palettes in the cargo hold?

Fine, if that's the case. I don't care if the planes are packed. I'm short. As long as Beefy McLinebacker in the seat in front of me doesn't suddenly recline while my tray table's down and fracture my sternum, I can endure a lot for $9. I can even skip the munchkin pack of ceramic pretzels.

But ...

When I checked the site for some Florida travel, I learned that a $9 flight is available only if you've joined the $9 club, which costs $59 per year.

Makes sense if you fly a lot; still cheap if you don't. But there's still another charge: for FUEL. That brought the price up another 80 bucks. (If you don't want to pay, well, then you can jog alongside for the duration of the trip, I guess.)

But at least they're transparent about all their costs, and that's good.

Here are a few suggestions for other upcharges:

Pressurized cabin charge, $4.

When the plane taxis, an initial charge of $4, plus $1.25 per mile.

The nonstop in-flight showing of the latest Adam Sandler movie will be shut off if passengers pool at least $100.

Bags are checked free, but cost $140 to get back.

Emergency oxygen masks will be coin-operated.

Meals consist of a flight attendant walking down the aisle with a squirt bottle filled with gravy.

This could work. As long as we're blue-skying a wonderful future, I'd like to see an airline whose planes are so high-tech they can take off even if someone's reading a Kindle in 32C. There might be a niche for an airline like that. Even if they charged $9 for the privilege.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Can the Wild rally to win its playoff series against Colorado?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close