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Airlines Create New Fee…Again!

Newest Airline Fee

You’ve got to hand it to the airlines, they are the kings of creating new fees to  bolster their bottom lines and frustrate the traveling public.  Lets recap the airlines’ progression on assessing us with new fees:

  • Baggage fee
  • Europe’s budget carrier, Ryan Air, experimented with charging a “restroom fee”
  • Do you remember when they wanted to charge us a convenience fee for buying tickets online?
  • Premiere seating upgrade fee, paying for a few more inches of leg room
  • Still a carrier or two charging a “carry-on luggage” fee
  • Where you once tipped a skycap for assistance at curbside, baggage drop-offs, there is now a fee to do so!

And, now, three major carriers will be implementing an extra charge to NOT be in the center seat!   Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines will be putting this new charge into affect in the coming days.  The fee?  About $50 more to get a window or aisle seat.

Why?  Because they can!

Government Regulations?

Its not enough that the airlines want to shrink the space per seat even further than they already have.  Attempts to stop this latest move in Congress have failed.  The airlines crying foul and charging Congress with a move back towards regulating the air travel industry.  I, for one, would not mind having some government oversight on an otherwise out of hand industry.

I do believe in free enterprise and letting the buying public have the final say in what it considers to be “too far”, but at some point, where common-sense is replaced by the bottom-line, I think something must be done.  It took an act of Congress, literally, to simply get the airlines to post the total cost of a ticket, rather than the deceptive piece meal way they were doing it.

It wasn’t that long ago that what-you-saw-was-not-what-you-paid.  Airlines would post a low, misleading price to purchase a ticket and when you clicked to select that ticket, the price would miraculously increase significantly as all the various fees were added in…landing fees, airport security fees, etc.   And, that brought us back to “what you see is what you pay” ticket pricing.  That is, it is until you start to add in all the “optional” fees.

You know, the optional checked baggage fee, the upgrade fees for such things as “economy-plus”, where they let you opt out of the space saver seats into what used to be regular seats for an additional charge.  This latest fee falls into the same category of fees, where you will pay NOT to be stuck in the middle seat.  (Didn’t USAirways experiment with the same thing several years ago, where they charged extra to get an aisle seat?)

What’s different this time?  This time, it isn’t just one airline’s experiment.  This time, it involves three of the largest carriers in the country.  This time, you may have to just plan on spending that extra $40-50 per leg fee…unless you don’t mind the center seat.

Unintended Side-Affect

Here’s one side affect that has not been mentioned anywhere that I’ve seen.  I believe that there will be families that will take the center seats to save money (multiply that $40 by 4 or more seats and it adds up, quickly).  Then, once on the plane, they will start asking passengers in the aisle or window seats, if they wouldn’t mind swapping so that they can sit together.

This can be a hard for the all but cold-hearted person to refuse, especially if it involves young children.

In the past, I have accommodated such families, but it usually meant swapping an aisle for an aisle seat or a window for a window seat.  In the future, I’m less likely to be amenable to such requests to swap my extra-cost window or aisle for a discounted center seat, just so a family who chose to split themselves up to save money, can sit together.  Likewise, when the flight attendants ask for volunteers to swap seats to help  families out that the airlines split up, I don’t think they’ll find too many volunteers who will downgrade to a center seat.

Just my thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.

Fare Buzz

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