Future Moves of Low Cost Airlines?

People who regularly travel by air are well aware of the strategies adopted by low-cost airlines (we shall refer to these airlines as ‘CheapAir’ in this article). Some things that they already do, allegedly to compensate for their cheap base tickets are:

  • Charging for food/ drinks in the flight
  • Express check-in queues where you pay extra for faster check-in (last time I managed to complete the check-in faster than those who paid the extra amount – I smirked a ‘bye, take your time’ to the folks in the express queue 😉 ).
  • Special, variable charges for many of the seats – seats in front, aisle seats, window seats, emergency row, etc.
  • Lowering the limits of free baggage and being strict about charging for excess baggage
  • Reducing the weight carried by the aircraft to reduce the fuel consumption by:
    • Getting rid of ovens from the aircraft (no warm meals)
    • Making seats lighter (and making them thinner to accommodate 1-2 rows more)
    • Hiring crew with small build (I have also noticed on one of the CheapAirs in India that all cabin crew members are always of one gender – I am not sure whether this is discrimination)

More than a strategy to recover some money, I think it is a strategy to project themselves as really cheap (low-cost or budget), so that the travelers do not critically look at the ticket prices (which are sometimes higher than the ticket prices on ‘full-service’ airlines).

More to Come?

Here is what else you can expect from CheapAirs in the not so distant future:

Free weight limit will be based on the total weight (weight of the traveler + check-in baggage + hand baggage) and the free total weight limit will be really low (maybe 50Kgs?). There will be weigh-in and payment facility at the boarding gates, and special charges for ‘express weigh in’. As this may make people serious about losing weight, the CheapAirs will be partnering with weight-loss industry and getting a commission from them.
Eventually, after everyone shrinks and carries little baggage, the CheapAirs can add more seats and use the baggage hold area better too.

CheapAir-2Use of toilets on the aircraft will be charged. The charges will have to be paid before you enter the toilet. The charges will be based on the time that you plan to use the toilet. At the end of the paid time, the toilet door will open and the honored guest (passenger) will be ejected. There will be no refunds for non-usage or reduced usage. All toilet material (water, tissues, loo-paper) will have to be purchased on a non-returnable basis. Used toilet material will have to be carried back by the guest to reduce the cleaning cost/ garbage disposal cost for the CheapAirs.
Eventually, as people get used to not using the toilets, the toilets space will be used to accommodate more passengers (I don’t think that they will make the passengers sit in the toilets, but will modify the aircraft to replace the toilet cubicles with seats 🙂 ).

Garbage clearing and cabin cleaning charges. Every passenger will charged for the amount of mess he/ she leaves behind. A refundable charge will be levied on the ticket and the balance amount will be refunded as a credit for the passenger, to be used towards future travel.

Passengers acting as part-time cabin crew. For a fee, travelers will be able to role-play cabin crew members for a flight. The fee entitles them to a cabin crew uniform and free meal and the privilege of experiencing the glamorous profession of airline crew. Breakages and complaints from other passengers will mean additional fines for the part-time cabin crew.
So, one passenger seat saved and one less cabin crew member. And fees collected from part-time cabin crew.

The CheapAirs are also contemplating disposing rubbish from the mid-air. I think a pilot study is already on, going by the reports here  and here.
Eventually, there will be less load to carry, less cleaning cost and faster aircraft turnaround.

A leader in innovative pricing in the ultra-low-cost segment is Ryanair. Here is a video highlighting their ‘ultra cheapness’.

If the video does not load, click here (you will be charged a viewing fee that is computed based on the dynamic market demand-supply situation) :-).

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature.

Author: Rajesh Naik

I'm Rajesh Naik, and this is my personal website If you are interested in contacting me, I am also available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite.

4 thoughts on “Future Moves of Low Cost Airlines?”

  1. It’s really very futuristic (in this age futuristic may mean in next 3 months). I think there are other avenues to make money by these cheapos, charge you for breathing, any way they need to pay for carbon emissions, they can charge based on your heart rate thru-out the flights; at the time of emergency landing, priority would be given to extra paying customers, etc.

    1. Hi Lavesh,

      You have given some new ideas to the CheapAirs. Maybe they will give you a free trip (in the cargo area) 🙂

      Thanks for your comments.



  2. Your article plus Lavesh’s sharp take has provoked me into further musings on the scenario of the near future for “CheapAir” travels:

    1. Discounted pricing for “standing only” passengers. Of course safety of passengers will be ensured by strapping them to ceilings or to each other, so they don’t take off while ascending or landing. Premium passengers willing to give up their seats mid-way through the travel for “standing passengers” to be given credits for future travel. Passengers willing to take only 1/2 of the journey to make way for their “standing brethren” to be dropped by parachutes mid-air with insurance papers tucked into their straps.

    2. Passengers wanting to avail of both the arm rests (one to the left and one to the right) need to make their preference in advance during ticket booking (latest during web check-in). 50 % extra pricing for both arm rests; 25% for use of 1. Rest with base price tickets could find suitable ways to engage their arms.

    3. 1/4th the ticket price for those willing to travel horizontal beneath the seat space. Seats will be suitably elevated to allow for breathing and tossing comforts.

    4. Credits for passengers willing to check in early and for those volunteering to stay put, post arrival, to assist in baggage handling services. A step away towards creating a self-service airline.

    5. Serving meals on board to be replaced by pot luck arrangements between passengers; this will increase camaraderie and passenger retention for future travels. Cabin crew and Pilots to be fed by passengers; this will decrease overhead costs and drive bottom line improvements for CheapAir.

    6. Lights of high luminous intensity to be switched on, by default, during night travel. Passengers seeking comfort of darkness to pay a premium for lights to be switched off above their seats.

    7. Seeing the urgency of passengers to disembark even before the flight stops to a complete halt, CheapAir will introduce a premium price for those wishing “assisted speedy disembarking”.

    8. Sleepy passengers availing of mid-night CheapAir flights (the CheapestAir version) could avail of an extra hour of sleep inside the aircraft till the cleaning process is completed, of course at an additional price.

    9. Passengers to be charged extra if they want to avail of newspapers on board. Times of India will be premium pricing. Airline magazine and menu card will continue to be free for passengers’ reading pleasure.

    In an age where consumer is blessed with choices and is given the discretion to spend only based on what he/she consumes, CheapAir could become the by-word in personalization and innovation in air travel. And get listed eventually on the stock market, with the promoters living the high life – an expensive lifestyle obtained through cheap service offerings.

    For early bird offers on the choices above, as part of the “Republic day special”, please log on to the airline’s website – CheapAir – setting benchmarks for cheap-ness.

    1. Hi Prakash,

      Great ideas, I suspect you are being compensated by some ‘full-service’ airline to take good pot-shots at CheapAirs.



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