Should all airlines be made to provide passengers with free water?

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February 03, 2014

It is unlikely there will be a person reading this that won’t answer  “yes” to this question. The reality however is that the majority of low cost airlines make passengers pay for water –  and it’s a small bottle of water at that.

AirlineRatings.com  feels  that water should be provided complimentary and to reflect this we in fact deducted a half star from the product rating of any airline that didn’t provide free water to its passengers.

The argument from the airlines is that they are providing low cost travel and allowing passengers the choice to buy what they want and therefore spend what they want.  It’s called unbundling. There is no denying it, a low cost carrier airfare without any add ons is generally speaking a bargain!

If water is offered to every passenger on board this cost will be passed on to your airfare – but it’s water the basic of all requirements like air!! And purchased in bulk it’s cheap!!

In the air you are paying up to $3.00 for a bottle and generally you need two or three on a medium length flight. Passengers would surely prefer “free” water at a cost of $1 or $2 extra on their ticket?  

Then there is the other side of the argument – money. Despite what many think the profit margin on an airfare can be as low as $2 or much less so suddenly the water sold to you at a hefty mark up becomes critical.

There is no doubt that ancillary fees are important. For example in 2012 US airlines collected $6-billion from customers in baggage and / or change of flight fees. But without that much-maligned money airlines would have lost $8.12 per passenger. As it is, ancillary fees allowed US airlines to make 37 cents profit per passenger or about $264 million.

Perhaps what is needed is a better fee / product relationship so that passengers feel they’re getting value  – not being ripped off.

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