The High Cost of Penny Pinching

pretzel2.jpgEarlier this week, US Airways announced that it will stop offering “free” snacks to passengers beginning June 1.

On paper, I’m sure that will save US Airways millions of dollars. But the marketing cost—to the airline and the industry—might end up being much higher.

According to a study released today by the Travel Industry Association, more than 25 percent of US air travelers skipped at least one air trip in the past year because of the growing hassles. That’s more than $9 billion in potential revenues.

Clearly, the airlines face steep challenges because of the high price of fuel. But they’ve stirred up a tremendous amount of ill will by the way they are managing the problem and communicating to the public.

In reality, US Airways’ “no snacks for you” policy won’t materially change the flying experience. But it will give travelers one more thing to gripe about in check-in lines this summer—and that will prove to be far more costly than a piffling bag of pretzels could ever be.

Photo by ryanchirnomas on Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved.