Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Survey on Airline Fees

Here's a very useful story and graphic on the fees airlines charge -- via USA Today, a newspaper often derided as "Useless Today." (Sorry guys! But that's what we sometimes call you. And I was a Gannettoid editor for one glorious year in 1979-80. And it was a glorious year, too, even though USA Today, then in its start-up phase, kept picking our pocket for resources or to buy Al Neuharth more bling, one.)

Anyway, the story has a useful chart breaking down fees not just by the base list-prices but by the actual range of prices.

Very nicely done, though I do disagree with the thrust of the sidebar in which passengers wail about fees. It's my experience that business travelers and other frequent fliers have resigned themselves to fees, and in some cases welcome them as a way to, say, buy an aisle seat up front or ensure priority boarding for $15 or so, without having to jump through all of the hoops required for annual elite status. Also, I do not mind spending $8 for a decent sandwich on a flight, with memories of the glorified gruel the airlines used to dish-up for free.

Where savvy travelers do complain is that travel managers are very unclear on which fees can be reimbursed on expense accounts. Only about a quarter of companies have clear policies on this, surveys show.

Meanwhile, air fares remain near historical lows. You can always find someone to complain about prices, but in general we still have cheap air travel in this country.

Not let's get companies on the stick about what they'll reimburse for, clearly. And then let's have some pushback from travelers.



Anonymous said...

The fees were more clearly explained last month in this story:

ChefNick said...

What's odd in this age of fees and nickel 'n' diming is when I fly Delta (currently the only airline that connects me directly from Montreal to Osaka, through the U.S.) and I've earned enough mileage points, gate agents are practically falling over themselves to bump me up to First.

Of course I dress in a suit and tie when I fly, but these days I don't even have to ask -- out spits my boarding pass "3A" or some such.

It's either my handsome face or more space in First . . . I just don't know.

(This last time they bumped me AND my 10-year-old son up to First between Detroit and Seattle!)