Airline amenities are becoming artifacts

With tongue somewhat planted in cheek, I’ve written previously about airlines missing opportunities to charge fees. Carriers such as Ryanair then began to lend reality to the humor by pondering charges for restroom use.

Now comes news that American Airlines will be asking for $8 if you want a pillow and a blanket. According to The Associated Press, JetBlue and US Airways already charge $7.

So the blanket and pillow will cost more than the drinks? On American Airlines, I can pay $7 for a Bloody Mary, and I won’t need a blanket and pillow. I’ll be warm, comfortable, sleepy and save a $1, unless that’s the price of snoring, too.

I can’t wait until they start charging for the seat cushions. Benches will be free, but plush seating will be premium. It won’t stop there either. In the event of a water landing, you will kindly swipe your credit card at your seat to enable release of the cushion as a flotation device. Buy the cushion and the life vest together, and get 25 percent off the total price.

Should the aircraft lose cabin pressure, don your mask first before assisting others, and don’t forget to insert quarters to begin the flow of oxygen, a quarter per minute. Buying in bulk will get you free minutes. Insert 10 quarters and get 13 minutes of oxygen. Debit cards will be accepted.

We already see many of the airlines charging for priority seating, but how about priority exiting? Make it auction style. You want to be the first one up the jetway after the plane lands? Bidding starts at $50.

The airlines truthfully have left too many loopholes in the baggage fee policies, too (Southwest excepted, of course). I can foresee a system where it costs $15 per bag checked at the counter, and $30 for each bag you want to stow in the overhead bin. After all, rearranging all those bags as people board is costing departure time, and time is money. Oh, and it will cost the same amount to retrieve your suitcase should it arrive at your destination when you do. No charge if the bag gets lost.

Maybe the airlines should pass a hat, too, or like the Red Sox, start charging the former bleacher prices for standing-room-only admission.

I’m now accepting offers to become some lucky airline’s Fee Czar. Recruiters will have to pay a fee, naturally.

Working from Logan International Airport

Let’s play a little “Good News, Bad News.” Or maybe it would better to call this “Bad News, Good News.”

BAD NEWS: When the phone rang somewhere around 2:40 this morning, momentary panic set in. Phone calls at that hour are never a good thing. In fact, I think the last time we were phoned at that hour was five years ago when one of my production coordinators at rousted me into action to ramp up our coverage of The Station nightclub fire. The circumstances were considerably less dire this morning. Hello, automated attendant. My 11:45 a.m. JetBlue flight to Orlando was canceled.

GOOD NEWS: The recording provided me with an option to speak to a live operator to reschedule, and I was just conscious enough to ask for an earlier flight, knowing the forecast for today would leave me with few options in the afternoon.

BAD NEWS: I chose a 9:45 a.m. flight that had me connecting through JFK in New York. As soon as I hung up the phone, I realized that was probably not going to work because the storm was hitting New York first. I also realized that getting to Boston well enough in advance of departure would put me right in the teeth of morning rush hour traffic. Mild panic set in, and I could not get back to sleep for another hour.

GOOD NEWS: I got up at 5:30 a.m., and was out the door at 6:30, despite needing to pack a few remaining items, and the computer and printer deciding to take their time with my new boarding pass. Better news: Traffic was as light as a weekend morning. With Massachusetts public school kids and many parents on vacation, plus seemingly many opting to stay home with the storm rolling in, I strolled into the airport at 7:45.

BAD NEWS: While I was standing in JetBlue’s bag-drop line, I got an e-mail on my Blackberry. My flight from JFK to Orlando was canceled.

GOOD NEWS: Apparently the folks in line in front of me got the same message on their PDAs, because I overheard them asking a JetBlue manager what they should do. “Follow me,” she said, “and I’ll have you go direct.” Sure enough, she booked me on a direct flight leaving at 6:45 p.m. “What are the chances of that flight actually leaving?” I asked. “Pretty good,” she said. “The problem is right now. Later should be fine.”

BAD NEWS: After talking to a colleague who had already made it to Florida, he suggested I look around for a business center or frequent flier club to park for the day. Loved that idea! So I went to the Massport information booth to learn my options. “No, we don’t have anything like that here (outside of security),” she said. “But you could try the Kidport upstairs, near the food court. There’s rocking chairs there.” I asked if it was quiet. “It is the KIDport,” she reminded me.

GOOD NEWS: My house is a Kidport too. So at least the environs were no worse for concentration than what I ordinarily experience. So while there were a number of kids climbing in the airplaine replica and sliding down the mock luggage carousel, it felt like home. I grabbed some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, logged onto the airport wifi, and settled in near an electric outlet, which of course was a premium spot on a day like today.

BAD NEWS: My Blackberry buzzed at 11:24 a.m. My new flight was canceled. My butt was also sore from the rocking chair. The idea was better than the actual comfort.

GOOD NEWS: I logged onto JetBlue’s site, and was able to get myself switched to the last flight out at 8:30 p.m. — still direct, and still to Orlando.

BAD NEWS: It’s 3:47 p.m. The snow is coming down much faster now than it has all day. The plows look as if they’re having a hard time keeping up. The visibility is so poor, I can barely see the taxiway signs, much less the actual runway.

GOOD NEWS: The JetBlue flight status page shows my flight as still being on time. Better news: There’s a Samuel Adams Boston Brewhouse very near where I am sitting. A premium seat near an outlet is a small sacrifice to make for beer. Bonus: The visibility seems to have improved slightly, and planes are still heading out to the runway after their de-icings.

More to come….