These days it seems airlines are trying just about anything to make an extra buck. The latest quick buck approach that I’ve experienced is the added charge to fly in the emergency row on Northwest Airlines flights. I did this yesterday, paying an additional $15 to fly in the emergency row of a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Since I don’t fly Northwest that often, I couldn’t have qualified for a Northwest Perks upgrade for the emergency row. For those of you who don’t fly that often, the emergency row seat is considered a ‘better seat’ because there typically is more leg room. It also means that you have the added burden of opening up the airplane hatch in case of a crash landing. And that’s where I thought the Northwest policy took on some morbid undertones. Aren’t the exit row passengers paying for both real legroom AND a quick exit off of the aircraft in case of emergency? That doesn’t seem right, does it?
I know that this is a relatively new policy, so I bet Northwest hasn’t faced some of the tougher questions that will arise from this approach. For example, what happens if an unqualified person [A child, someone who can’t lift the 35lb. door, etc.] buys the upgrade and then, upon arriving at their seat, the flight attendant has to inform them that they need to change their seat? I can only imagine the lunacy that will follow. Will that person then get a refund, and when? I’ve been on more flights than I care to remember where someone become belligerant just because another person accidentally took their seat. Can you imagine if these people are asked to move from a seat they paid a premium for?
It seems like air travel already has too many ‘whacko’ factors and this is one that the airline industry would be best served to stay away from. As for me, I don’t think I’ll pay for that privilege again.