Sunday, January 24, 2010

Norwegian Air in U-turn

- after public rage over new fee

(Source: Aftenposten, January 20th 2010) Norwegian Air Shuttle experienced a humiliating U-turn this week, as the budget air carrier canceled, after a public outcry, its plans to introduce a compulsory fee to reserve seats on their flights.

Whereas Scandinavian Airlines market themselves as a non-nonsense, all-inclusive airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle has introduced a wide range of different fees. They argue that they provide low priced tickets and that travelers may choose to save money on services other airlines charge for.

If you choose to reserve seats, when booking on the net, you will have to pay a fee to get that special place to sit. Until now, you could pick your own seat, at check-in, at no cost, and passengers with no preference, will be seated by the airline.

Until now, as the company planned to introduce a fee for every travelers that wants a particular seat. Anne-Sissel Skånvik, Norwegian's Director of Communication, did even claim that most travelers would regard this as an advantage, as e.g. families that check-in late, would be guaranteed a favourable seating by the airline.

Most travelers did not agree with here, but regarded this as another way to squeeze more money out of the passengers. The new fee resulted in a public outcry from those that declared their resistance to the company policy, saying that the new fee would be another nail in the famous coffin. A frustrated passenger, Jan Krøgenes, had the following message to the company through Aftenposten (translated):
This is the last straw. I will not choose to fly Norwegian after its last stunt. The company introduce too many fees, and only its Irish competitor (read;Ryanair) is worse. In addition to this, Norwegian experience many delays, so the choice from now is simple - SAS, here I come again!

Norwegian Air Shuttle did, in all decency, drop the new fee after just one week, and the company management admitted that the passenger's reactions was the main reason for the change of policy. This should serve as a lesson for the airline that there are limits to what passengers will conform to, and that decisions like this may undermine their position as a major player in the Scandinavian travel market. It also confirms that travelers have power and that it pays to react to unreasonable fees.
(Photo: Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 737-300 (LN-KKO) taxis to the runway at Birmingham International Airport, England by Arpingstone)

More stories on unreasonable fees

Ryanair: Toilet fee still an option

There is no such thing as a free lunch - or ticket............?

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