|I pleaded with my husband, "If I fly to Ohio I promise not to buy a pair of shoes for the next six months!" My friend Sarah was turning 35 and I desperately wanted to be a surprise at her party. I found an $119 bargain fare that quickly became $134. I'd read the little line about "plus applicable fees and taxes" but was still sticker shocked when I saw the final price.
What did these "applicable fees and taxes" pay for? The privilege of having airport security see my dirty laundry or spending $1.79 for gum at an airport store that would've cost 89 cents back in the real world?
I proceeded to the gate and wondered what other hidden fees I'd find. "Good morning. We'll now begin boarding Bargain Flight 00 from Charlotte to Columbus. In case of a water landing, your seat cushions can be used as a flotation device. If you care for a seat cushion while traveling today, please place a quarter in the slot and firmly pull the cushion off the rack in the jetway. If you're a frequent flyer member, there'll be no extra charge for bringing your own meal on board. Nonmembers must pay a trash disposal fee of $3. To sign up for our frequent flyer program, simply complete a registration card in the noncomplimentary in flight magazine, apply postage and mail."
Knowing there were at least a couple lakes en route, I opted for the seat cushion and boarded the plane. "Excuse me sir, is this a full flight today?" "How badly do you want to know?" I slipped him a buck. "Fully booked."
I figured I'd make my bathroom run now before I had to step over a seatmate. I paid a vending machine a dollar to lower the toilet seat and a nickel per square of toilet paper. I knew I should've heeded my mother's advice to always carry tissues in my purse.
Back in my seat, I waited for the inevitable sumo wrestler to sit next to me. The flight attendant maneuvered up isle handing out price lists.
Functioning seatbelt: $10
Ice in your water: $2
Coffee stirstick: 25cents
Making me stop the mid–flight shift of carts in the rear galley that mimic the sound of the tail falling off: $72
Human Bobbleheads at flight's end chanting, "bye, thanks for flying, bye, thanks for flying…." $4 per head
Use of fold down tray that tilts slightly towards the aft cabin: $10
In flight magazine without crossword puzzle already completed: $3
In flight magazine with crossword puzzle blank: $6
Pillow: $2; Blanket: $ 4; Pillow/Blanket combo: $5
Functional plastic shade over window: $3
As I stared at the sheet and debated the necessity of a seatbelt, the pilot announced we were clear for take off. I looked at the last item on the list:
An empty seat next to you: Priceless.