Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 13th, 2011 at 8:32 am
"It's just friendly nod to the Portland biking community - which several of our employees belong to."
— Tom LaBonty, Southwest Airlines employee
We all heard the big news back in April when Frontier Airlines removed the flat fee for checked bicycles. Long before that, we'd floated the idea of having Portland International Airport (PDX) become something of a bikes-fly-free oasis. Imagine the symbolism (and huge win for PR/tourism) if PDX convinced all its local carriers to make a clear statement that bicycles (and their people) are welcomed with open arms!
Well, one reader who happens to be an employee of Southwest Airlines, has been pushing on that idea internally and he's made a bit of a breakthrough.
Lents neighborhood resident Tom LaBonty (whom you will recall as the cargo bike crafting guru behind Tom's Cargo Bikes) said his new station manager liked the bikes-fly-free idea and has approved a limited-time promotion to coincide with this year's Pedalpalooza event.
Here's how it works: If you're flying Southwest Airlines out of PDX from June 9 thru June 26th, the bicycle baggage fee will be waived.
LaBonty wants to make sure folks realize this is only for travel out of Portland and it's not a systemwide promotion. "This is not a sales gimmick," he says, "our marketing department has nothing to do with it and we don't expect to sell any additional tickets because of this."
To LaBonty, it's just the right thing to do. "It's just friendly nod to the Portland biking community - which several of our employees belong to."
He plans to hang copies of the flyer at the ticket counter and baggage area to make folks aware of the promotion.
It's not much, but at least it's a start. "Hopefully, next year we can get a better agreement," says LaBonty. Yep, and hopefully this small gesture inspires other airlines to follow suit.