"With our competitors charging for basics like food, beverages, blankets and luggage, we feel the time is right to roll out a reasonable fee structure for our on-board life-saving equipment," said InterWest CEO Avril Dysloofa during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The move is the latest in a steady stream of supplemental in-flight charges that started with meals and refreshments and has grown to encompass entertainment, pillows, blankets and carry-on luggage. Ireland-based Ryanair has even suggested that passengers should pay extra to use aircraft toilets.
InterWest's pre-flight safety demonstrations will continue as usual, Dysloofa explained, but are now followed by complimentary screenings of Alive and Castaway. Passengers will then have the opportunity to purchase reusable life vests for $49.99 via seat-back touch-screens.
"Any passenger who enjoys boating or water sports — or appreciates the extra in-flight security of a personal flotation device — will find our vests deliver excellent value," she added.
For another $49.99, passengers will be issued keys to unlock the overheard compartments from which oxygen masks tumble in the event of a loss of air pressure. "Flight attendants will of course be on hand to assist children, dwarfs and vertically-challenged passengers who are unable to reach the locks from a seated position," Dysloofa added.
Lastly, colour-coded wristbands will identify passengers who have paid $49.99 for the convenience of using the inflatable emergency exit slides. "Not only are the slides invaluable tools for avoiding a watery or fiery death, but they beat the pants off anything at Wild Water Kingdom," Dysloofa said.
Officials from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration were quick to comment. "IntraWest has really stumped us here," admitted spokeswoman Pauline Yorlegg. "I mean, who would have thought an airline would go this far? We don't have policy in place to prevent these fees, so I guess InterWest can go ahead until we draft something."
The announcement came amid celebrations surrounding InterWest's 10th anniversary. Fireworks followed the press conference, along with the unfurling of a giant banner emblazoned with the words: "Happy April Fool's Day!"
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