Spirit Airlines, which I admit I admire for being the first airline to charge for carry-on luggage, has just said they'll start charging a $5 fee for passengers who need an airline agent to print their boarding pass for them at the airport. Is this, too, a reasonable "extra" the airline can charge for, letting passengers choose?
Spirit says passengers can skip the fee by printing their own boarding passes "at home," but of course that's not an option for your return trip. (Some, but not all, hotels have printers you can use to print out your boarding pass. Few campsites do.) For now, passengers can also print their own boarding pass at an airport kiosk, though the airline says they'll start charging $1 for that option next summer.
The company says it's lowering fares $5 across the board, then charging that $5 only to customers who need the hand-holding of having a staffer print their boarding pass. As with the luggage fee, they say the intent is to lower the cost of travel for everyone. (We think fewer carry-on bags is a positive thing for everyone, no matter what.)
But is showing up with a boarding pass already printed easy enough for every traveler to do? Or, is it easy enough for most that it really does make sense to shift the cost to the passengers who need help? As for me, I'd be OK with a $5 fee to have a ticket agent print out my boarding pass for me, if I always had the option to print my own (even at the airport) or the option to wave a mobile boarding pass from my cell phone's screen. What about you?