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THE INC. LIFE

United Airlines Now Wants Passengers to Pay $9 For Something That May Annoy a Lot of People

Is this something passengers requested? And how many will it anger?

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 10 Mar 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

Soon, you may have to pay for things like seat cushions.

Or perhaps even air vents.

Some airlines already charge for water.

Yet a new revenue-generating idea from United Airlines might give you a new reason to pause for thought.

About the troubled state of the world, that is.

The airline has decided to offer you the opportunity to board in Group 2 for a fee.

Group 2 is what is known as the Priority Boarding group. It's only for the (al)most elite passengers.

Specifically: Premier Gold, Star Alliance Gold, Premier Silver, Star Alliance Silver, Customers who have purchased Premier Access, United MileagePlus Explorer, Club, Presidential Plus and Awards Cardmembers.

My, they give out more statuses these days than the Queen of England gives out knighthoods.

You'll be wondering, though, how much it will cost you to get on board alongside these high-falutin' types and hope that there's still some overhead bin space available.

$9.

That's the price of access to the exalted world.

Of course, if you've ever been booked near the rear and have never been graced with status, you'll likely have watched these people board ahead of you and noticed that there are sometimes 50 or more of them.

Now that anyone can buy in, please imagine how many might stand between you and even the hope of an overhead bin.

This isn't (entirely) the airline's fault.

Too many passengers regularly break the boundaries of shame and try to drag vast carry-ons onto planes.

Too many airline employees are too jaded to stop them.

I asked the airline whether this new charge would cause chaos and anger, as too many people try to enter the magical group 2.

I will update, should I hear.

A spokeswoman did tell the San Francisco Chronicle: "Its availability is closely controlled based on flight, date, time of day and day-of-week restrictions. We do not anticipate any significant impact on the current boarding group size."

United's significant impact may be calibrated along a slightly different scale than yours.

After all, the airline has shown a distinct penchant for making as much money as it can, even at the expense of its own employees' bonuses.

A wrinkle here is that, of course, Group 2 is actually Group 3.

Active military, families with children and Global Services are Group 1.

Then it's First and Business class, Premier 1K and Platinum members.

So will your $9 purchase be worth it?

Or is it, as I fear, a little trial run to see whether -- in some near, dystopian future -- United and other airlines might choose to charge passengers for specific boarding position?

After all, Southwest just increased the charge for being one of the first 15 people in its Group A to $50.

I can only conceive of the auctions that might be to come on our airlines.

How much am I bid for Boarding Position number 107? I hear $40! $50 over at the back! Anyone give me 60? $60 to you madam! SOLD, for $60!

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