Airline Fees Are Getting Even More Annoying
It’s happened to everyone. You arrive at the airport, ready to jet off to a choice destination. You go up to the counter and suddenly you get hit with some BS fee. Your luggage weighs too much or maybe you have too many bags. You want to change your seat to sit with your family, but you have to pay for that too. It’s all quite infuriating, inconvenient, and most of all, expensive.
These fees have, quite frankly, gotten ridiculous. A recent USA Today study found that there are fees as high as $400 to check an overweight bag (71-100) pounds on international flights for some airlines. American Airlines charges up to $450 for such a bag on some of their international flights. There are ridiculous charges for changing international flights, up to $400 in some cases. And there are some weird fees that are pretty cheap, but still incredibly annoying. For example, most airlines now charge around $10-$25 to book a round trip ticket from a mobile device. Frequent flier mile users can get charged just to use those miles. For example, Jet Blue and Delta both charge $25 to book a free ticket online or on a mobile device. Keep in mind that these are all just fees that apply to coach customers; first class customers have the potential for even more fees to be levied against them.
According to a few recent polls, baggage fees are hated the most by travelers, but flight change and cancellation fees were a notable second.
Why do airlines charge such exorbitant fees? Well, quite frankly, because they can. They know that people will pay to fly because they have no choice. It’s completely legal for them to institute these fees. It’s not a monopoly, but there are a finite number of places that customers can turn to to get flights. And these fees have been incredibly lucrative for the companies — as the USA Today piece put it, “according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 15 U.S. airlines reported revenues of $2.6 billion from baggage fees and $2.1 billion from reservation-change fees during the first three quarters last year.”
A separate survey by Fly.com didn’t focus on the fees that travelers have to pay, but rather the fees they would want to pay. That’s right, airline passengers said they would pay more fees for certain perks, such as a fast pass to get through airline security, a guaranteed overhead bin in their area, or for their checked luggage to come out first.
After all, it would kind of make sense for airlines to offer more extensive kinds of service. In most aspects of life, we are able to choose different features based on affordability and convenience. Currently most airlines only distinguish between coach and first class, leaving travelers with only two options. (Although some airlines do offer things like extra space seats for a little more.)
It’s probably wishful thinking, but charging people only for the things they want — like overhead bin space — may lower the prices for the rest of us?
Nah, these prices are never going down, we should all just get used to paying an arm and a leg for some of our flights.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Jason via Flickr]