Monday, April 30, 2007

What airlines really need: more fees

Airlines, becoming ever more expensive, are currently considering another round of fees to rake in more money. Their fee plans come at yet another spike in gas prices. Some of these fees caught my attention:

AirTran Airways is reportedly considering fees for advance seat assignments and $10 to $15 for reserving premium seats like those in exit rows

The web has allowed us to choose our own seats based at check-in, something I've found to be extremely convenient. I can find an entire row for my wife and I that lets us stretch out, if the plane is not fully booked. Northwest airlines is doing the same, and I imagine other airlines will follow suit.

The carrier [Southwest] vows not to charge for things that are free now, such as a soda or a blanket. But it doesn't rule out fees for amenities it doesn't currently offer like seat assignments and meals.
Gee, thanks for not charging me a dollar for the soda that's supposed to already be included in the price of the ticket.

I was caught by this one on my last trip:

Most domestic airlines now allow you to check two bags weighing no more than 50 pounds each. Go over that weight and you'll pay $25 or more per bag. If you want to check an extra bag, you'll pay up to $80 or more per bag.
Amazingly, airlines how charge (Continental in my case) $80 for an oversized bag. My bag was 5 lb overweight. Solution? I had to put 5 lb of clothes into my backpack, which fortunately was almost empty, to avoid an $80 fee. $80 for 5 extra pounds of luggage! It's outrageous. If the airline is trying to recoup the costs of fuel due to extra weight, they lost. I carried the weight on with me anyway.

Some airlines are adding fuel surcharges. Some want to charge you per-bag. What concerns me with all this is that these are just hidden costs of your ticket, making the pricing structure unnecessarily complex so consumers don't see up front what their plane ride really costs. It's yet another sneaky tactic from the greedy corporation department. And how are we supposed to compare airline ticket prices when we may get hit with a mountain of fees once we get to the airport?

We can't. And maybe that's the point. The good old American car trip is looking better by the minute. Now how can I figure out how to charge my wife extra if she wants to recline the front seat?

1 comment:

dong said...

On one level I hate the fees. I hate being nickeled a dime. On another level I think if I can get a cheaper fare because I don't care about advanced seating or have bags that's a great thing. It's nice being able to pick and choose what to pay for, but i imagine on the most part companies reaping the benefit from price complexity.