I was travelling through Luton yesterday and I couldn’t help noticing how both the airport and airlines use FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) to help them reduce costs and streamline their operations. Here are some examples I noticed:
- Regular announcements that if you try to pass security with more than 1 item of hand luggage, you may be sent back to checkin
- RyanAir claiming that if you go to the gate with more than your allotted allowance/over your weight limit/oversize cabin bag, you will be denied boarding and your ticket cancelled without refund
- RyanAir using a “free seating” mechanism (no allocated seats)
All this has the effect of architecting a control path allowing passengers to be herded more effectively, though it’s interesting to see that there are few mechanisms where, for example, the bag restrictions are controlled. The staff at the RyanAir gate weren’t RyanAir staff and were not checking people’s bags, but the FUD element meant that most passengers stuck to the rules. The “free seating” mechanism meant that everyone got to the gate early for fear of not finding a good seat.
While I’m perfectly happy with incentivising customers to achieve required behaviours, I’m not sure I’m so keen on FUD being used to achieve lower costs. How do you feel? Have you come across companies using the FUD factor on you recently?