Animals and Money: Hey desperate airlines, please gouge us dog owners

The Airline industry is desperate. They've packed us in as tightly as they can, cut service and comfort to the bone marrow, crunched schedules and now they're charging for checking bags. (This week American announced it would charge $15 for its first checked bag. Last month American and other airlines announced they would charge $25 for the second checked bag.)

American also upped its fees for traveling pets. Just a few years ago they were $50. Now they're $100 each way in the cabin and $150 in the cargo hold, which is where dogs over 20 pounds have to go. But on behalf of dog owners everywhere, I'd like to say that all the major airlines are missing out on a huge new opportunity to gouge customers --- customers who would line up to pay exorbitant fees.

I'm talking about dog owners who would be willing to pay full-priced human fare to have a big dog fly safely in the cabin. The space of one seat could easily stack three or four crates. Hey, airlines executives and shareholders, are you getting excited yet? I'd eagerly pay hundreds of dollars extra. You could make me show up for a flight at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. You could sit me in the middle seat in the last row behind a chatty family who reclines and between sales reps. You could offer up your most surly staff and flimsiest excuses for delays. And I'd still be thrilled if only I could get my 70-pound dog safely in a crate in the back of the cabin.