Posted by: bkivey | 13 August 2015

Fee – Fi- Fo- Hum

I went to book my vacation flights, and found out that the airlines, or at least one of them, have found another way to nickel-and-dime the traveler.

Over the last couple of decades, airline fees have become an industry standard. Ever since deregulation, the days of paying for a ticket and expecting amenities are gone. Now all you get for the price of a ticket is the ability to get on the aircraft and sit in an increasingly smaller seat. Everything else costs extra. I wrote a not entirely tongue-in-cheek post on this. Now I find that Air Canada has taken fees to a new level.

Most airlines will allow you to select your seat. Admittedly, this is a step up from the historical method of taking whatever seat the airline assigned you, but on the other hand, modern tech should allow this. I’ve been selecting seats for years, at no charge unless I wanted a ‘premium’ seat (usually exit rows). I have no problem with airlines charging extra for seats with extra leg-room. I do wonder if people who are willing to pay for exit row seats will actually be useful if needed. My beef with Air Canada is that they charge $8 to select the standard seat. What?! They’ve managed to take the Personal Seat License to the sky.

I was initially confused by the Air Canada site because most sites allow seat selection prior to ticket purchase, and theirs does not. Now I know why. I opted for waiving the seat selection fee and will take whatever seat the airline sees fit to offer. My longest flight is less than two hours, and it’s on a regional jet, so the worst I’ll do is an aisle seat.

I have a suggestion for airline execs: charge one price for a given ticket. Include most or all of pre-deregulation amenities. Sure, your ticket prices will appear higher than competitors, but economies of scale should allow some cost-savings, and explaining what the customer is getting will likely increase sales. Also, make 17 December a bikes-fly-free day.

Weather Watch

I usually take my vacation in the third week of September. Because I’m going to a part of the world with which I’m not familiar, I checked the long-range weather forecast. So glad I did.

I’ve lived twenty years in the Pacific Northwest, and know the climate patterns. The usual pattern later in the year is that there is a week where weather will switch from Summer to Winter weather patterns. It’s usually fairly abrupt. We don’t really do Spring and Fall here. In Portland this often occurs mid-October; in Seattle, a couple weeks earlier. Checking the 30-day forecast (guess) for Vancouver and Calgary, it appears this transition occurs mid-September. This tracks with my experience, but occasioned a change of plans. So I’ll be taking vacation a little earlier this year, but hopefully with better weather.

No Hitter

Mariner’s pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma threw a no-hitter on 12 August. Baseball is a team sport, and Iwakuma was quick to credit his defense and catcher in achieving the feat. A no-no is a pitcher’s dream, exceeded only by the perfect game.

I only caught fragments of the game while driving around town, but did get the last inning. Ex-Mariner-turned-broadcaster Mike Blowers stated that during a no-hitter, the fielders were more nervous than the pitcher: wanting to turn every play to perfection.  As in every no-hitter, there were some chancy fielding plays, but the defense came through. Iwakuma has had a spotty year, and was seen as trade-bait, but one day can make a career. This was also his first complete game in MLB.  Chapeau!

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