No Free Drinks – Less Trash?


Last weekend we flew US Airways to Phoenix for a walking getaway. I knew we would have to pay $15 for any checked luggage, so Rich and I shared a single checked bag. But I was surprised to learn on board that any water or soda would be $2. Luckily, I had brought along my reusable water bottle and had filled it at the water fountain before boarding. Thank heavens they eliminated that rule that prohibited taking fluids on board.

US Airway says this has reduced trash and aisle congestion. I have to agree with that. There seemed to be less of a line for the restroom, and it was nice not to have the drink cart going up and down the aisle.

The plane was full coming and going, and I was very happy that we had checked one bag and had only small carry-ons rather than roll-aboards. The people in the window seats had effectively filled all of the overhead baggage storage by the time the middle and aisle seat people were allowed to board. The only storage was under the seat. This was fine for my Swiss Army bag and Rich’s day pack. I wonder if they charged people who had to check their baggage at the plane door because the storage was full? That might be a way around the charge!

With these charges, the air line saves a lot:

  • Drink, snack and drink cart weight: somewhat offset by wise travelers bringing their own water and snacks aboard.
  • Drink expense, snack expense while also making some money on them.
  • Trash weight and disposal expense: while people may bring aboard their food, I noted far less trash being collected than ever before.
  • Luggage weight and handling expense: People pack lighter to fit it into fewer bags and attempt to carry it all onboard.
  • Flight attendant workload: I don’t know if there are regulatory standards for how many flight attendants must be on board, but those who are there have far less to do. They can concentrate on customer assistance rather than drink service.

Overall, I’d say it is “greener” to eliminate the free drink and snack service and impose fees to make people rethink and reduce their luggage weight.

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