LOW COST CARRIERS

Next in radical unbundling: Spirit to charge for carry-on luggage

Ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines has become the first airline in the USA – perhaps in the world – to charge passengers with carry-on luggage as much as USD45 each way for stowing a bag in the overhead bin. Spirit said it will add measuring devices at the gates to determine which carry-ons are free and which ones will incur the charge. Personal items that fit under the seat will still be free, as long as they aren’t bigger than 16 x 14 x12 inches (40 x 30 x 20cm). Other exceptions to the fee are umbrellas, coats, strollers or car seats, reading material for the flight, or food passengers bring to eat on board. The new charge is USD30 if paid in advance online, USD45 if paid at the airport, and USD20 for frequent-flyer members. Passengers that pay the carry-on luggage fee will get priority when boarding. 

Spirit, which likes to compare itself to budget carrier Ryanair, was the first US carrier to impose checked baggage fees in 2008 and at the moment all major airlines except Southwest and JetBlue charge to check a bag on domestic flights. However, many passengers have been bringing large and heavy bags into the aircraft instead to avoid checked luggage fees. The U.S Association of Flight Attendants has even launched an ‘End Carry-on Crunch’ campaign to protest against the number of people who bring overstuffed bags on board and clog the overhead space.
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Southwest’s ‘Green Plane’ to test eco-friendly interior materials

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Southwest Airlines has designated a 4-year old Boeing 737-700 ‘Green Plane’ to serve as a test-aircraft for a series of sustainable interior materials. For example, a 100 percent recyclable carpet is installed in sections, eliminating the need for total replacement of areas such as aisles, where Southwest currently uses 1 single piece of carpet. The carpet is returned to the manufacturer at the end of its service life and completely re-manufactured into new carpet. Also, two new leather seat covers (one recycled and one a leather substitute) will be tested, which are more durable and almost two pounds per seat lighter. To reduce weight, a lighter weight fill from foam in the back of the seats reduces weight, as well as life vest pouches made from canvas, instead of metal.

Overall, the uses more weigh-efficient materials  save the new plane approximately five pounds (2.3 kg) per seat, adding up to about a 472-pound (214 kg) difference, which is said to reduce 9,500 gallons (nearly 36,000 liters) of fuel each year. Additionally, Southwest expects the eco-friendly products to be more durable, which will save on materials and labor.
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