It’s what we call nickle and diming. Airlines have been competing with low fares for years, and with outlets like Expedia and Priceline, people have become accustomed to paying drastically reduced fares. But the cost of fuel and labor keeps going up–so what is an airline to do?
Obviously they don’t want to respond in knee-jerk fashion and raise fares. That will mean an immediate and drastic shift in consumer spending on air travel. So they have opted to start charging fees…small, sometimes barely noticeable fees…which add up to a heft sum.
What are some of these fees?
How about charging you between $5-25 just to make a reservation in person or on the phone? Yep, that’s right. If you want to talk to a live person, many airlines (including American, Jet Blue and Southwest) will charge you a fee. Along those same lines, if you actually want to get a seat assignment prior to your flight, it can cost you between $5-20.
And as for those ‘perks’ of airtravel, like frequent flier miles, it turns out they can be as much of a liability as they are a benefit. Some airlines are charging up to $100 just to re-bank your frequent flier miles, and others are charging the same amount if you want to cash your miles in without advance notice. Delta airlines now requires 22 days notice to use your frequent flier miles without an additional penalty of $75!
The fees for transporting pets have gone up drastically in the past year, as have the fees for lap children–or kids too small to have their own seat. But perhaps the most ludicrous fees are those that charge you to check your luggage. Even if you check one bag, and it is within the size and weight limits, you can be charged between $3-25 EACH WAY.
Finally–airlines have reduced or completely eliminated food and beverage service on many flights. Don’t get me wrong–if I’m taking a 1.5 hour flight, I don’t necessarily need a snack. But I’ve been on 3 hours flights with only so much as a package of stale pretzels and a dixie cup of soda pop to sustain me.
Do airlines really think that we haven’t noticed these changes?