Spirit Airlines has a reputation for charging up the whatsit for every and any add-on it can come up with, so we’re not entirely surprised that CEO Ben “Fine, I Suppose We’ll Refund A Dying Man’s Ticket” Baldanza is more than okay with his airline’s reputation as the “dollar store of the sky.” Actually he wouldn’t be surprised if that was something the company came up with itself.
Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson interviewed/lobbed up a few questions to Baldanza on this morning’s radio show. When asked about that particular moniker, the CEO admitted he was far from offended. In fact, he said, “I think we might have been the ones who tried to coin that.”
In his view of things, it’s better to be set apart from the airline industry as one ginormous blob of companies providing a service, even if you’re called out for being cheap. And by cheap we mean charging customers for using the overhead bins or paying to have a ticket agent print out your boarding pass at the airport instead of doing it yourself at home.
“People seem to understand that, in retail. People get that there’s a difference between a Nordstrom and a Target, and a Walmart and a dollar store,” he explains. “So we’ve tried to use that retail analogy — sometimes we say we’re the McDonald’s [of airlines] as well. But what we’re trying to do is offer the lowest possible price to consumers, and that means we do things a little bit differently than a lot of other airlines.”
Sure, maybe people in retail get that, but how about your customers? We still don’t quite get it.
There is a light at the end of the fee-ridden tunnel, at least where Spirit is considered. Even Baldanza says the company is running out of add-ons to charge for.
“If you ask if we’ve gone too far in terms of the unbundling, meaning services or things that used to be considered part of a core fare, then we probably are almost at the limit of that,” he admits. “Because it’s hard to imagine that… our fares pretty much include the right to get on the plane and get off at the other end, to have a safe and on-time flight and that’s pretty much it. So there’s not really much else we can take out of that.”
We’ll believe it when we don’t see those fees, buddy. No breath-holding going on in these parts, no siree. In the meantime we shall continue to use “dollar store of the sky” and “McDonald’s of the airlines” with pleasure.
Listen to the entire non-interview/interview via the source link below, but don’t let Baldanza’s fluffy answers go to your head. After all, he’s left quite a trail of awfulness behind on this very site.