When you think of stealing from a travel company, swiping a towel or bathrobe from a hotel probably comes to mind.
Howard Lo admits he’s taken an item or two when he was younger. Lately, he says, he’s come to understand that stealing is stealing. Staying at an Airbnb rental, where the towels belonged to a person and not a corporation, really crystallized the issue.
“I know better now,” says Lo, who runs a technology company in San Francisco.
When a travel company thinks of stealing, it’s probably not worried about soap or mugs. Instead, companies are concerned with the opportunities you take from them — specifically, opportunities to make more money.
Two recent events have brought this peculiar definition of theft to the fore. The first is proposed new legislation that would stop airlines from imposing fees that are “unreasonable or disproportional to the costs incurred by the air carrier.” That bill, which I mentioned in last week’s column, illuminated the high fees charged by travel companies, especially airlines. The second is a recent report that the top three U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — made a combined $14.5 billion in so-called ancillary revenue from fees and the sale of frequent-flier miles.