Northwest next month plans to cut the last bit of free food from most of its U.S. flights in a desperate effort to stem mounting losses.
Starting June 9, Northwest will stop handing out small packages of pretzels on its flights, which a spokesman said will save the airline $2 million per year. The carrier will replace the free pretzels with a mixed-nut fruit snack, which will be available for $1. The airline will still offer passengers some drinks for free. It is unclear whether pretzels will be pulled from its Airlink regional flights because some are operated by separate airlines.
Northwest is also looking for ways to boost revenue as it tests a program in Seattle to charge passengers for checking baggage at the airport curb. The test will run through June, and the results will be gauged by the reduction in expenses for curbside service and incremental revenues or both.
Curbside baggage check-in will be $2 per piece of baggage for domestic and international flights and be implemented by FSS Inc., Northwest's Skycap vendor in Seattle.
Northwest told employees that United began charging customers for its Skycap service in November 2004, also in Seattle, and is generating about $300,000 annually. It has recently expanded the program to Boston, Portland, Chicago O'Hare, Oakland and Tampa, and expects to add San Francisco and Las Vegas by June.
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