More and more, airlines stand to make a lot more money when airports do their jobs inefficiently. Last month, I told you about how one airline at JFK was raking in fees for instant security-line upgrades when the TSA failed to process passengers quickly.
Now, airport management itself is finding a way to cash in. Manchester, England just completed a pilot program charging customers £50, or nearly $80, to fast-track passengers through the airport through check-in and security.
Manchester Airport calls the fee "Friendly Guides."
The charge covered up to four passengers if they were departing, or they could pay £40 (about $63) if they were arriving and needed to grease the transit through Customs and Immigration. Transferring flights cost the most: £60, or $94.
Just as airlines now have a financial incentive to annoy passengers with lax standard service, airports officially have a financial interest in creating systems that are lacking: They can charge you to make it easier.
Manchester's Friendly Guides pay service was rolled out in the airport's Terminal 2 but is expected to surface across all its terminals by the end of the summer. Right now, it must be booked through the airport directly, but soon, it could be sold to the general public through travel agents.
And the class system continues to erode the hard-won democratization of travel.