Pay to Pee? Pee for Pay? How Far Will Airline Energy Panic Go?

06/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This morning, on Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, after reporting that United Airlines was going to start charging for water and soda, joked that they'd "soon start charging for a visit to the ladies' room. It got me thinking. Airlines are doing everything they can to cut the weight they carry. Lop an olive off a salad and save $40,000. Well, why not get people to cut their weight before they board. Now, I don't think they'd actually pay for people to pee, but they might just think about making announcements that there is 15 minutes until boarding and then give directions to the nearest rest-room. They might decide to discourage easy access to beverages in the terminals, past the TSA screeners, where they already take any drink bottles you have. Or, they could just raise the price on them -- put a "charge" on them that reflects the cost of flying the fluid, in or out of the container.

As an inventor, this concept sends my mind soaring -- well, it takes it to different places, not exactly up in the air, but -- you know what I mean. As the airlines, already freaking out about the exploding costs of fuel, are desperately looking for any way to cut costs and recoup lost revenues, who knows where they'll go.

Maybe they'll start a "P-Lottery" and will weigh people before and after they go to the bathroom. They could issue boarding cards that allow people to check in and out of a bathroom, standing on a scale, like people go through the Metro in NYC or D.C., where they get weighed to see how much they lose. Anyone who drops some weight will get put in a lottery to get a free ticket or... a free on-board drink.

Or, forget about pee. How about just the idea of a "cut-the-weight" program, where passengers are invited to dump trash out of their pockets, carry-on bags, purses, backpacks, etc. I'll bet that would add up. The flight staff could walk around the waiting area with the same kinds of bags they use to pick up cups and napkins mid-flight, and they could give out lottery tickets to anyone who dumped anything into the bag. Then the passengers would fill in their names and give back the lottery tickets (before boarding -- don't want to add unnecessary weight) with the hope of winning something.

I'm convinced the main reason fuel costs are rising is the decline in the value of the dollar. It's not going to go away. Too many transnational corporations want the low dollar. So we in the US are going to have to make major adjustments to how we do things and what we are accustomed to. I've thrown away old, solid, sturdy luggage because it weighed too much. Now, I try to travel really light, with a backpack. Even a suit and pressed dress shirts on a hanger travel okay that way. But I usually load up my bag with a batch of books. I guess, when I'm flying, I should think about cutting back on how many I carry.

This problem is just going to get worse and we should all think of ways we can help. Air fares are rocketing and "WE" should do what we can to cut them, including helping, without being asked, to cut the load the planes carry. Just imagine, in the worst of all worlds, if the airlines actually did take the approach that it's your responsibility to do your bathroom "business" before you board, so that, if you waited until you were on the plane, you'd be charged to, make, as Mika said, "a visit to the ladies room."

That's not likely. But instead, we can expect massive increases in airfares and extra charges, like the ones for baggage and drinks. And while we're at it, let's talk about ways to save fuel and energy that have nothing to do with airlines. We can wait for the government or corporations to take steps, or we can just jump in and get started doing all we can to cut our "energy footprint."

Crossposted from