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Airline “Fees”…Enough Already!

Passenger Add-on Fees

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how these passenger add on fees continue to make the cost of traveling hard to calculate.  I understand when fuel prices go up, ticket prices must go up as well.  I get that.

But, when fuel prices come down and airlines continue to charge a fuel surcharge, well, that gets to be questionable.  The airlines are not the first or only ones to implement this charge.  UPS has been doing this for years…and they continue to be an annoyance as they too, are reluctant to remove the fee even if gas prices tumble.  Actually, I think even the airlines have given up trying to get away with calling it a “surchage”.  I think its just a plain old “fuel charge” these days.

Do you remember when the price you saw advertised was the price you paid?  It included a snack, meal, headset, blankets, and even luggage!   While “security measures” have added some of these annoying fees we are faced with today, not all charges can be blamed on stopping terrorism…at least not of the “blowing-up-the-plane” variety.  (It isn’t bad enough we have the inconvenience of the security check in the first place, but to add insult to injury, we have to pay for it.)

I guess we’d have to go back to the days when they first came up with the idea to eliminate meal service from flights and then start charging a captive audience if they happen to get hungry during the flight.  That was soon followed by a baggage fee, which of course only affected those who happen to take luggage with them.  Spirit Airlines has since started charging a fee for using the overhead storage areas and thus plugging that loop-hole.

From there we enter the realm of what I call, “do-you-think-we-can-get-away-with-it?” fees.   Fees, like charging you for headsets so you can listen to the “free” in-flight movie.  Then, they started to charge for blankets…thank you American Airlines.  Back in 2010, the airline “will sell a blue fleece blanket with an inflatable neck pillow in a clear zippered pouch, and will throw in coupon for $10 off a $30 purchase at Bed, Bath and Beyond,” spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said.  JetBlue and US Airways charge $7 for a blanket-and-pillow set;  US Airways added eye shades and earplugs.

For the last several years, these add-on fees have become significant sources of income as airlines collect millions of dollars.  The latest fee by discount carrier Spirit Airlines is a Passenger Usage Fee.  There has been a class-action suit filed against Spirit Airlines over this latest “optional fee”.   Spirit lists the fee, which varies from $9 to $17 per flight on its website, under the headline “Booking related fees”, as optional, however, there doesn’t appear to be any way to “opt-out” of paying it.

Their justification for this fee?  To provide a website and phone service for passengers to purchase tickets.  Do you remember when the airlines tried to charge more for NOT booking your ticket online?  Now, they want to charge you FOR booking your ticket online.

All this comes about as the DOT attempt to clarify the pricing process by requiring airlines to quote prices on tickets which include all these ancillary fees, so you can compare apples to apples.  I am reminded of all those items up for auction on eBay that you can purchase for 99 cents, but shipping will cost you $9.95 for that regularly $10.00 item you thought you were getting such a deal on.

Do you remember Ryanair, the Ireland based, discount carrier that attempted to charge a “bathroom fee”?  You’ve just gotta love it when an airlines inspires so much anger that it has spawned its very own website for the disgruntled.  Check out I Hate Ryanair – The World’s Most Hated Airline.  If you’d like a good chuckle and see just how far some of these ancillary fees can go…or at least how far they have attempted to go, go take a peek.

Guess you can understand now why I was so excited about Tweeting Hawaiian Airlines plans to add some favorite Hawaiian foods to their in-flight meal options.   May not seem like much, but I’ll take any good news when it comes to airlines!  Happy Flying to you all!

UPDATE  9/26/2012:  Airlines report that in just the first half of this year, they have taken in a record $1.7 Billion in baggage fees!

Fare Buzz

1 Comment »

  • Nicole says:

    How can there be no comments?! Well researched and written as well as funny! Sickening too the never ending Black Hole of fees….

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