IT IS possible to put up a defence of the way that the cost of flying is becoming unbundled. Why should those who travel light subsidise those who have packed the kitchen sink? Or those who bring their own lunch pay extra so that everyone on the plane gets a finger sandwich? It is less easy to argue such a case when the service being charged for is essential.

Airports in Britain look set to expand a scheme allowing them to charge passengers to get through passport control more quickly. Flyers arriving at Edinburgh will soon be able to pay £5 ($6.59) to use the FastTrack service (Gatwick and Heathrow already offer something similar). And the Home Office has confirmed that it will allow the scheme, which is run as a joint venture between the airport operator and the UK Border Force, to be rolled out across the country. Airports could charge up to £17.50 to join a queue restricted to perhaps 50 passengers an hour.

This raises three issues. First, all other things being equal, speeding up the experience for those prepared to shell out will make things even slower for those who are not. Fast queues need more officials per passenger, which means fewer for the standard...Continue reading