Flying fees backlash and hotel room tips debated: the business week in review

Roughly half of Scotland woke up Friday disappointed, while the other half rejoiced over its renewed, 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom.

Although opinion polls predicted a far more even split in the vote, the final result of Scotland’s referendum was still a close one — the No campaign won 55.3 per cent of the votes cast versus the Yes campaign’s 44.7 per cent.

And with that announcement, many economists breathed a sigh of relief.

Scotland votes

Devolution is now in focus after Scotland rejects independence in referendum vote. ((Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images))

A vote in favour of independence would have created much financial uncertainty, with questions unanswered over what currency Scotland would use, and how much of the U.K.’s £1.3 trillion debt it would acquire. Two of the nation’s major banks, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, also said they would flee if Scotland voted ‘yes’ and set up their headquarters in England.

In some ways, the outcome is still a win for those disgruntled with the status quo. After the result was made public, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he is committed to giving more powers to Scotland.

Wind’s new lifeline

Good news for cell phone users fed up with expensive bills and looking for more competition in the wireless market.

Canada is one step closer to getting a fourth national carrier, after Wind Mobile announced it will partner with Canadian private equity firm West Face Capital and others to buy out Wind’s majority foreign shareholder, VimpelCom Ltd.

That opens the door to a potential merger with Mobilicity, or a deal with Quebecor Inc. which is looking to expand its wireless business, Videotron.

In an interview on The Exchange with Amanda LangWind founder and CEO Tony Lacavera said this week’s buyout confirms that “Wind is here to stay.”

Since launching the company in 2009, Lacavera has been trying to take a bite out of the Big Three’s huge piece of pie; Rogers, Bell, and Telus currently control about 90 per cent of the total subscriber base. Wind still only operates in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia with 750,000 subscribers. 

Baggage fees land in Canada

Frequent flyers could be heard groaning across the country this week. Two of Canada’s largest airlines introduced a $25 fee for the first checked bag.

Air Canada says the fee will apply to economy-class passengers travelling within Canada, as well as those flying to and from the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico.

That move followed the announcement from WestJet that it would charge $25 for the first bag on Econo fares for travel within Canada and between the U.S. and Canada.

Both airlines say the new policy will affect about 20 per cent of their Canadian customers.

Earlier this year, Porter Airlines adopted the $25 fee for all of its flights.

As Don Pittis wrote this week, the trend first swept the U.S. and has now trickled into Canada. It happened when larger airlines took a cue from discount carriers and started to charge extra for everything to boost what’s called “ancillary revenue” — sales from non-ticket sources like baggage fees, on-board food and services.

According to one annual from CarTrawler, this type of revenue grew 12-fold in six years, from $2.45 billion in 2007 to $31.5 billion in 2013.

Debating tip etiquette

The question of how much to tip housekeepers, or whether one even should or not, after checking out of a hotel room was raised and hotly debated this week after a controversial move by a major hotel chain.

Marriott International is the first hotel to join The Envelope Please program, in which envelopes will be left in its rooms across Canada and the U.S. to encourage guests to tip the hospitality workers who clean the sheets, scrub the toilets, and pick up garbage on a daily basis.

So what’s an acceptable tip? The American Hotel and Lodging Association suggests between $1 and $5 US per night. 

“Room attendants arguably do the least glamorous job. And, because we don’t see them, there’s very much an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude to gratuity,” according to etiquette expert Karen Cleveland. “So we should absolutely be tipping them.”

The program stems from Maria Shriver’s foundation, A Woman’s Nation, and aims to bring attention to the hard work housekeepers perform that is often overlooked since they’re not as visible to hotel guests as staff as the lobby desk or bellhops. Many of CBC’s readers begged to differ — pay your staff better, they said.

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