NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Irish airline Ryanair announced today that it would begin offering child-free flights in October, citing a study that found a third of European travelers have had a flight ruined by a noisy child.
Now, there’s a pretty good chance that this is an April Fool’s Joke – in the press release, Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara expressed a desire to let passengers “avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling” – so we’re taking this one with a whole shaker of salt. With that said, this is the same airline that once proposed charging passengers to use the bathroom, so we wouldn’t be surprised if this “prank” were actually a trial balloon of sorts. In other words, if Ryanair gets a positive response to the proposal it might actually look into doing this, but if there’s widespread outrage it can just claim it was all an April Fool’s joke.
Regardless of whether it turns out to be a joke, we have to admit that we would consider paying a small premium (say, $5) to be sure that there wouldn’t be a baby screaming for the duration of a six-hour flight. And that got us thinking: What other services would we be willing to pay for when we fly? While we regularly slam airlines for charging exorbitant fees for baggage handling and extra legroom, we’re not universally opposed to paying a little extra if it would actually improve our flying experience. Here are five fees we wouldn’t hate.
1. Priority Takeoff. Yes, we know the airline has no control over how quickly its planes are allowed to take off. But what if – and this is strictly hypothetical – the airline could pay the tower to push its planes to the front of the line, and then pass the cost of that bribe on to the passengers? I think most passengers would be willing to scrounge up an extra $20 if the alternative were spending two hours waiting to get onto the runway.
2. Expanded Movie Selection. It’s awfully nice of the airlines to offer a selection of movies for in-flight entertainment, but you’re often stuck with a limited selection of family-friendly fare. (Last time I flew I was stuck watching the dancing-penguin movie Happy Feet, and as my headphones were broken, I missed what I’m sure was a gripping plot.) What if you could pay $5 to have your pick of any film in the Netflix collection? It would make a long flight a little more bearable if you could watch a movie you actually wanted to see.
3. Buffet-Style Meals. Now that all the airlines charge you extra for in-flight meals anyway, it’s only fair that we get a little choice in our food. So instead of paying a fixed fee for a tray with fixed portions of entrees and sides, why not set up a small buffet in the galley and let passengers pick and choose which items they want on their plate?
4. Cockpit visit. Remember when you were a kid, and you got to go visit the pilot in the cockpit and see all the awesome buttons? That all went away after Sept. 11, but I’m sure there are some well-off folks who’d be willing to shell out to let their kid have the same experience. Our proposal: Make the parents pay to have a second air marshal on the flight who can escort the kid to the cockpit and make sure he doesn’t hijack the plane.
5. Priority Disembark. It’s one of the worst parts of flying: You finally finish your flight and taxi to the gate, then have to wait 15 minutes while everyone in front of you stands in the aisle getting their carry-on luggage. What if you could pay a fee to cut to the front of the line? Imagine this: “Thank you for flying with us today. Please remain seated until our priority guests have had a chance to retrieve their belongings and exit the airplane.” Of course, any non-paying guest who tried to make a break for it would be tackled by the air marshal.
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