Flying is already a pain in the rear, given high prices, stingy airline fees, huge waits, the ever-present and invasive scanning and the knowledge that it’s only going to get worse. It is getting worse, as some new fees are being introduced while others are going up.
Spring breakers to be broke after being subjected to new airline fees
Flying is a hassle. Aside from long waits, invasive screenings and the knowledge that legitimately suspicious people are ignored in lieu of shaking down tiny old white women, there are the fees. Give airlines credit, at least they’re consistent. It’s a given that flying means forking over; this lessens the shock.
They have to pay executive bonuses somehow.
This year, new fees are being added and old fees are going up in price. A study by TravelNerd.com found 52 new fees since Jan. 2012. Of those, 36 were direct fee increases. Baggage fees were 28 of the 52 new fees, along with 19 service fees and 5 in-flight fees.
Bundle, bundle, toil and trouble
The new thing in the travel industry is “bundling,” according to the Wall Street Journal, where certain options are allowed in packages. It isn’t unlike options on a car; power windows, power doors and remote keyless entry are one package, leather bucket seats and premium audio are another.
Well, unless you spring for Recaros and install them.
Delta Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines offer packages for those who desire certain things. For instance, bespoke seats and early boarding for a round-trip, cross-country fare in coach on US Airways will set one back $177.
American’s tiered packages yield more options for more money; for instance, if one elects for a Choice Essential package, a $68 increase for a round-trip, it nets early boarding, one free checked bag and the $150 domestic change fee is waived.
However, almost all fees are semi-optional; if one doesn’t intend to check a bag, need an assigned seat, or intend to board early, why pay? If one needs those things, prepare to part with cash.
There are new airline fees, but for the most part, they aren’t that bad. TravelNerd found the average increase was between $5 and $10, as few airlines added substantial new fees or drastically increased extant ones. Furthermore, according to Time magazine, North American passengers paid only 5 percent more in ancillary fees in 2012 compared to 2011; the global increase was just 11 percent, as such fees contributed $36 billion to airline coffers. The global increase in 2011 over 2010 was 50 percent.
The pace of the increases is slowing as airlines are hitting a ceiling of what customers are willing to put up with. Checked bag fees, additional checked bag fees, carry-on fees, overweight bag fees are avoidable after all.
Choice of airline matters, though, so consumers should compare airlines before booking. For instance, a CBS reporter wrote a blog about booking a round-trip flight from Colorado to Las Vegas. A Southwest fare, round-trip, was $16.32 more, each way, than an Allegiant fare. However, because Southwest charges very few fees, the total came to $91 less than the Allegiant fare with the baggage, check-in and other ancillary fees.