So here’s a good one.
US Airways announced yesterday that, come May 8, it will add a 5-percent surcharge to all American flights.
Too much demand? No.
Higher fuel costs? No.
Cost of steel to make the planes? No.
Peer pressure from Snoop Dogg? No.
U.S. Airways is increasing costsâ€”and I wish I could make this upâ€”just in case fuel prices and other costs increase. Just. In. Case.
Just in case T.I. shows up at his concert next Thursday night, Jay-Z is charging everything $10 extra. Just in case the tomatoes are especially ripe, Per Se is bumping its dinner up from $250 to $275. Just in case the New Jersey Nets win a game, they’re chargingâ€”aw, hell. That’s never gonna happen.
Not all that long ago, I felt bad for the airline industry. The wake of 9.11 was an absolute mess, and perhaps there was good reason to bilk us. But not nowâ€”not with the economy still stagnant and people struggling to make ends meet.
Valerie Wunder, a the US Airlines spokeswoman, said the surcharge beginning next May is a hedge against uncertain costs. “We take more risk when we take bookings early,” she said. “We don’t know what the environment will be if fuel goes up or our costs go up because of schedule changes.”
And it’s not just US Air. Delta, Northwest and United havce bumped the surcharge on some busy days next March and April to $30 each way from $20, and to $50 on the day after the Super Bowl.
PS: I’m in Panera. As I write this, a man in his 60s … 70s is standing before me. He’s wearing a jeans jacket that reads THE AMAZING RICHIE: COMEDY MAGIC. He’s hovering over the laptop of an equally aged woman and they’reâ€”I kid you notâ€“trying to buy a Lady Gaga song from iTunes. (They seem to be struggling)
“Which one do you want, Richie?”
“Boom Boom Boom.”
“Boom Boom Wha’?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”