I'm as concerned as anyone is about the fees airlines are charging their customers these days. I can't judge them, because I don't know the inner workings of those airlines.
My background is many years in the hospitality and foodservice business, and I wonder what would happen if a similar system was put into place to save restaurant businesses - they suffer a high rate of failure, and often within a short time after opening, less than five years in many cases.
BUSINESS LUNCH AT SILVER WINGS RESTAURANT (An upscale eatery serving mostly wealthy clientel.)
Mr. Moneybags is the new CEO of Big Business Concern, an enterprise with a purpose not entirely clear to anyone, least of all to Mr. Moneybag's own family.
On this particular day, Mr. Moneybags instructs his secretary to make reservations for lunch at the Silver Wings Restaurant, located on the other side of the block. She's to insist that Mr. Moneybags and his business cronies be seated in the small private room, and request his favorite waitress, Tootsie Sweetpants. She's not only a very good waitress, but also not bad to look at.
At the end of a wonderful, very reasonably priced meal, Tootsie presents the check, encased in a genuine leather folder, to Mr. Moneybags.
Not wishing to appear unconcerned about the cost of goods, especially when in the company of his cronies, Mr. Moneybags studies the check with great care. After only a short inspection of the charges, he waves frantically to his server, Tootsie Sweetpants, who returns to the table post haste.
"What is this charge for?" He asks, clearly angry, pointing to an item on the check. "Reservations? When did you start charging for reservations?"
"We have recently added a $20 fee per person for advance reservations. Our employees must be paid a fair wage," she answers. "We're here to serve you, and we make sure that you are seated as soon as you arrive with your party."
"And this?" he asks, pointing to another figure.
"For chairs. We think you want your guests and yourself to be comfortable. Those with advance reservations are also reserved the softest dining chairs."
"Seven dollars each? For the priviledge of sitting in a chair?"
"For the comfort of your guests, sir."
"Well, all right then. Of course."
Tootsie Sweetpants, thinking the matter is settled, turns and begins to walk away.
"Wait! Tootsie! What's this for?"
Tootsie returns to the table. "Is there something else I can help you with, sir?"
"That is the charge for using the private dining room. The new service charge is $30 per diner."
"I pay for our meal. Why do I have to pay for the reservation, the chair I sit in, and now pay extra for the room where my table is located?"
"It's a cleaning charge. Our cleaning service must be paid. We haven't raised our menu prices in two years. The price of your meal is resonable. We can't pass on the cost of the services provided to you to our other diners. We charge only for the extra items and services that you use."
"You realize that I won't return to this restaurant, don't you? I won't bring my business associates here ever again!"
"Mr. Moneybags, everyone is doing it. We have to if we want to stay in business and still serve a good meal at a reasonable price. Every restaurant in the city now charges for extras."
"I can't believe this is happening! I don't feel so good. Bring me another glass of water, will you?"
"Do you want me to bring everyone at your table another glass of water?"
"Of course! You're a waitress, aren't you?"
"Can I have the check back, please? I have to add $10 per person to your tab."