This is why.
Smith’s treatment of Spirit Airlines marketing exec Barry Biffle on his show Monday afternoon wasn’t just rude and unprofessional, it was stupid and inaccurate. And it showed that Smith hasn’t the faintest idea what the hell he’s talking about.
The fact is, what Spirit has done, something which has earned them the blind rage of blow-dried media dolts like Smith looking for an opportunity to paint themselves as “looking out for the little guy,” is to drop fares and replace them with add-on charges for things which slow down boarding and deplaning. Airlines fight a losing battle every day to keep their flights on schedule, and with the move across the industry to charge for checked bags encouraging more carry-ons, which makes for a more chaotic situation at the beginning and end of flights, that battle has become even harder.
Meanwhile, Spirit’s costs to handle baggage are largely fixed. More checked bags neither slow down flights nor impose heavier costs.
They’re a discount airline, and because they’re a discount airline they’re looking for discount passengers. They want travelers who don’t bring their entire lives with them on the plane. This move indicates they want to focus on that market; they think that positioning will help maximize their financial success.
But weenie travelers like Smith, who with his seven-figure salary at Fox News wouldn’t fly on a discount airline when he goes home to whatever genteel Mississippi hellhole he frequents on weekends anyway, would likely find themselves hit with a $45 extra charge for trying to stuff the overhead bins with an extra carry-on bag. And if Spirit wants to discourage arrogant Ole Miss grads from jamming Vera Bradley bags under the seat by charging them a little extra beyond some of the cheapest fares in the business, they’re free to do it.
Of course, Smith’s unprofessional rant would be comical if he wasn’t parroting the authoritarian line brought out by Sen. Chuck The Schmuck Schumer (D-NY), who thinks it’s the federal government’s business to tell Spirit how they can position themselves in the market. Schumer, whose personal behavior while flying has been documented to perhaps justify discounts to other passengers on flights he happens to be on, calls Spirit’s fees “a slap in the face to travelers.”
While Schumer might be popular with the obnoxious and dysfunctional voters of New York, with their penchant for inflicting such troglodytes as Charlie Rangel, Hillary Clinton, Elliott Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Louise Slaughter, Eric Massa and Gregory Meek on the American conscience, the rest of the nation – including that part of the country more inclined to watch Fox News – finds him less tolerable. That an anchor Fox News viewers are subjected to not once but twice per day should ape Schumer’s nanny-state tyranny in his own Dan Rather wannabe fashion is more than just a little disappointing.
So far Spirit says their advance bookings are up 50 percent since the fee structure changes were instituted. While the market has yet to fully vet the airline’s decision, it will do so in time.
Such is also the case for Smith.