Human interaction costs extra at airline Jetstar

A plane from Qantas airline budget carrier Jetstar, is shown taxiing past the air traffic control tower at Sydney Airport

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: As it prepares to go public, discount carrier Spirit Airlines says investors are less excited about its initial public offering than it had hoped. The company wants to expand its no frills flights that charge a lot less, but tack on a lot of fees. In Australia, a budget airline has plans to charge passengers any time they talk to a person.

From Sydney, reporter Stuart Cohen explains.


STUART COHEN: Jetstar is the low cost arm of Australia's national airline Qantas. Under Jetstar's new rules, passengers will get a text message 24-hours before the flight time. They'll then go to the airport, weigh, tag and drop their own luggage, then proceed through security -- all without any interaction with Jetstar staff.

A limited number of agents will be at available for people who need assistance, but asking them for help will cost an extra $10.

Passengers groups aren't happy -- especially groups representing disabled and older flyers who they say often need help to navigate the check-in process, but will have to pay that fee regardless.

Jayson Westbury, is the head of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.

JAYSON WESTBURY: When it doesn't work and when the technology does fail, let's face it all technology fails from time to time.

While most of the big American carriers rolled out self-service kiosks years ago, and many allow passengers to download a scannable boarding pass to an iPhone or other smartphone, there's no indication any of them are planning to fall into the line behind Jetstar and eliminate the last of the human touches, at least not yet.

In Sydney, I'm Stuart Cohen, for Marketplace.

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