Qantas-owned low cost carrier Jetstar said yesterday it was investigating ways to further compartmentalise the cost of its service. A ‘smiles surcharge’ is at the top of a long list of ideas to lower costs and increase profit margins.
“It’s all about keeping costs down for our customers,” said a Jetstar spokesperson. “Attendants who are pre-disposed to smiling cost us more. If you’re happy to put up with a grouchy, lower-paid flight attendant, then that cost saving goes directly into your pocket.”
Passengers would be able to choose the add-on for an additional cost of $15 when booking tickets online. Alternatively, smile upgrades could be bought at the airport for $200. All passengers with the upgrade would be seated together at the front of the plane to avoid freeloading customers getting any unintentional benefit from the smiles.
Jetstar’s most valuable customers will occasionally receive free smiles if there are unused smiles on a given flight. But a customer service representative at the airline warned normal customers against asking for a free smile upgrade at check-in. “You could actually get the opposite of what you bargained for” she said.
Competing low-cost carrier Tiger said it wasn’t considering adopting a similar policy. “Mate, we’re just trying to get our planes up in the air. We’ll worry about all that smiling and safety stuff later,” a spokesperson at the airline said.