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The Worst Travel Development of the Decade

12/02/2010

 

Airline Fees Are Killing Me!

Today, it seems only the airlines are not ticked off at “the airlines”.

Holiday travel is in its frenzied peak. Travelers search high and low for fares meeting their approval only to be nickled and dimed to death. Need to check a bag? That can cost between $15 and $35. Want to get on the standby list? It’s $50 to confirm a seat on an earlier flight. How about an exit row seat? Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on the airline, the seat and the length of the flight.

Airlines say that charging a la carte for services keeps base fares lower and allows travelers using those services to pay directly for them.

Coincidently, charging separately also increases ancillary revenue — money generated by sources other than fares — which jumped 15.8 percent in the second quarter to $2.1 billion, compared with the same period last year, according to the Transportation Department. So far this year, airlines have collected $1.7 billion from baggage fees and $1.5 billion in reservation, cancellation and change fees alone.

Such fees were voted the “worst travel development of the past decade,” according to a survey of more than 3,000 United States travelers by TripAdvisor.com. Fees “add to the overall hassle factor associated with today’s air travel,” said Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, an online flight search tool. And because many of the charges are for things that used to cost nothing, there is a “perception that airlines are nickel-and-diming their customers,” Mr. Counter said.

Added to this is the fact most airlines have no idea how to market their brand to consumers. A great blog by Harvey Briggs of RedFusion Studios called “My View From The Shore” featured a post “Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep” pointing out big time holes in a new campaign by Delta Airlines. Briggs summarizes by saying, “It makes a promise that the brand can’t or is not willing to keep.”

So this holiday season as millions head to the airport steel yourself for indignities (TSA pat downs), fleecing (airline fees) and time-wasting (lines, baggage, cabs). With the proper frame of mind it’s really not so bad.

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