Chicago, IL (GlossyNews) — Complex merger talks now underway between United Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways include a landmark cost-cutting measure that will require passengers to clean the aircraft cabin and lavatories before leaving the plane.
“These discussions are all about finding efficiencies,” said an airline source close to the ongoing negotiations. “The fact is passengers are already onboard the plane. Why bring on a separate cleaning crew when passengers can pitch in and get it done faster and cheaper?”
In addition to benefiting from lower labor costs, the merged airline will charge passengers a fee for using onboard cleaning supplies, such as sponges and disinfectant cleansers, though passengers can avoid some of those fees by bringing their own cleaning materials with them.
“We can’t control what the TSA will allow, but we believe sponges, rubber gloves, small plastic buckets, trash bags and fold-up mops will clear most airport security lines,” the airline source noted. “Passengers will be welcome to bring those items onboard, subject to our normal carry-on policies. Those who prefer the convenience of buying cleaning supplies while on the aircraft may do so.”
Other airlines seem intrigued by the approach United, Continental and US Airways are taking, and indicate they will likely follow suit.
“We’ve cut costs as much as we possibly can,” said a Spirit Airlines spokesperson. “It’s time for passengers to start earning their ticket prices.”
Spirit, which recently announced a fee for carry-on luggage, could benefit even if passengers brought their own cleaning supplies onboard, an industry analyst observed.
“You’re not going to get a bucket and mop under the seat in front of you. Those would have to go in the overhead bin, and that’s where the carry-on fee comes in. This could be a win-win for Spirit.”
On Capitol Hill, Senator Chuck Schumer is leading a legislative fight against Spirit’s carry-on fee, but seems less combative about the industry’s planned cleaning policies.
“One way or another, those bathrooms need to get a lot cleaner,” said Senator Schumer.
Separately, discount airline Ryanair strongly disputed allegations that the fee to use its airplane lavatories is higher than originally announced.
“There is a lot of confusion between the ‘toilet fee’ and the ‘change fee’ but those are completely different,” said a Ryanair spokesperson. “Passengers with exact change pay only the toilet fee. Those who need quarters or dimes are charged a fee when we provide that service. We have not raised the toilet fee at this time.”
Some passengers tried to find bright spots in the new airline policies.
“At least you can buy cleaning supplies once you’re on the plane,” said a man at O’Hare airport in Chicago. “I always pack at the last minute, so I’d probably forget to bring a mop.”