Everyone secretly loves Michael

American Airlines announced earlier this week that they are to charge passengers and extra $10 on airfares, because they are flying on certain dates and, well because they can. And yesterday, the US’s other three carriers, United, Delta and Northwest, followed suit.

The extra charge will be applicable on November 29 and January 2, 3 – or the post Thanksgiving and New Year key travel periods. And you don’t need to be Einstein to work out that with millions of people travelling to see family on those dates and flying being the normal method of transport thanks to some of the huge distances in the States, the big four are going to make another killing.

Here in the UK, we’ve had British Airways and Virgin announce they will soon start charging people up to £40 for extra suitcases above the usual allowance, while BA will next month be fleecing us for an extra £10 in order to pre-allocate where we’ll sit on the plane.

The latter practice is now so rife among airlines flying from the UK that flight comparison website nowfly.co.uk has published a summary table of charges of what you have to pay in order to sit where you want when flying. It makes interesting reading and is here if you want a look click here.

The thing that annoys is that airlines are just finding increasing ways to squeeze revenue from sources that were normally rolled into the price of a flight a decade ago. So why can’t decent airlines just offer a flat fare (even if a little higher) and stop us having to do all this mucking about when booking?

The answer, of course, is the Ryanair affect with boss Michael O’Leary long leading the way on the extra charges front. Where Ryanair has been successful is in squeezing every last penny from passengers. And when one company proves they can do it and get away with it, others will follow (as was the case in the US earlier this week).

The biggest cheer at the TTG Awards on Tuesday came not for any of the winners but when guest host Austin Healey said: ‘We have a lot in common, you and I. I hate Ryanair too.’

O’Leary has become the bogeyman of the travel industry – a role I suspect he quite enjoys – but the same people who hiss and boo at the mention of his name are the same people who adopt his methods as soon as it suits. And underneath they are either glad that he’s there to lead the way, or secretly wish they had his guts when it comes to introducing the next extra charge. In truth, everyone secretly loves Michael