Travel Tips & Adventures

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Nickle and Diming in the Airline Industry

Remember when all you had to do was call for an airline reservation and some friendly person would talk to you?

Cost: Free

Then, as technology advanced you were given the option to book online OR, call that friendly reservation agent.

Cost: Free (for either service)

Fast forward to the year 2009. The following keywords are now in full force:1. Recession (Bad for everyone)

2. “We’re losing money” (Bad for the airlines)
3. Nickel and Diming (Good for the airlines – Bad for everyone else)

As the tourism industry began taking a major hit in the wallet, most of the smart people in the business began taking measures to keep customers flowing in.

A) When Las Vegas saw it was losing money the hotels began lowering their cost per room to get back tourist dollars.

B) Restaurants are changing their menus to offer more cost effective entrees that will bring in a more cost conscious public.

C) Even the government is giving us a FREE day at selected National Parks around the county.

D) And the airlines … well they are RAISING their fares AND piling on extra charges so that the traveling public has a “choice” of which services they wish to use.

The most important thing to remember is that they see no end in sight to the add-on services because now their profits are going up!


I sat back after booking a flight just a few days ago on an independent airline. My thoughts were cloudy, but I think I remember …

Freeeee peanuts? Freeeeee blankets and pillows? Freeeeeee meals?

Gone … gone … gone!

The airlines, large and small have found a cash cow in the last several months! Actually a Chocolate dairy cow! A Strawberry smoothie cow!

And they are drinking while we are paying … add-ons!

Take the latest example of using the traveling public for their financial gain.

Gotta Go? Better Have A Credit Card

Ryanair … (CEO Michael O’Leary just might be the smartest, or the dumbest guy in the airline industry).

O’Leary is quoted as saying he’s “asked Boeing to look into placing credit card readers on bathroom locks in new Ryanair planes.” But, he also wants two of the three bathrooms REMOVED from the plane and additional seats added (this, in itself, is probably illegal as per airline safety regulations).

The price of relief? £1, or about $1.63. At this time you will not be timed for your usage or quantity of … well you know. Just a door charge.

Timetable for institution: about two years.

Rationale? Of course “we’ve” got one! Most Ryanair flights only last about an hour … you can hold it!!!

Any entrepreneurs out there … airline travelers glass jars, tin cans, catheters

Why should the airlines be the only ones to get rich? Let’s all make some money!


What’s next?

Will airlines start calculating how many steps it takes you to walk down the ramp to the door of the airplane?

FEE: $.75 Per Step (guesstimate depending on your shoe size and length of step)

Or, maybe from the beginning of the stanchion where the line begins at the reservation desk.

FEE: $.61 Per Step (and what about fidgety kids, they move around a lot! An airline accountant’s dream!)

Far fetched? Stupid? Ridiculous?

Probably not, if you’re an airline executive! (Or, one of their accountants)

A LA CARTE Isn’t Just For Dining Anymore

I just booked a flight on Allegiant Airlines. At first glance the price was great. I thought, this is great! But that was just the BASE PRICE. I began to sink into my chair as the add-ons mounted.

1. Charge For Talking To A Reservations Agent On The Phone

Booking Fee: Anyone who uses the Allegiant Air Call Center is charged $10.00 per person, per segment.

Whatever happened to live interaction customer service? And, why do I have to pay for it? (Are they going to start charging us for talking to Flight Attendants?)

I did book online and weaseled out of this gem, but not the online booking gem, excuse me, Convenience Fee.

Convenience Fee: charged for using any Allegiant booking services. $14.00 per passenger.

But Wait!

If you want to waste your gasoline and drive to an airport ticket office (and probably pay for parking) you won’t be charged the above mentioned fee. Where’s the convenience in that?

2. Checked Baggage Charge (More At The Airport Than Online)

Baggage Fees – If you purchase while you are booking, a fee between $15 and $20 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second checked bag will apply per person, per segment.

If you wait until you check in your bag/s at the airport it’s $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for second checked bag will apply per person, per segment.

An even higher fee goes into effect for three or more checked bags.

Not only are they charging me to check my bags, they are charging me more for that same bag at the airport ticket counter if I change my mind at the last minute?

(Let’s get real…this is only going to cause more people to carry on baggage and try to stuff their oversize junk in the already too small overhead compartments.)

Of course the airlines won’t agree with this logic …

3. Priority Boarding Fee

Priority Boarding – You can select this with your seat selection for a nominal fee ($7.50 per person, per segment)

It’s the new “we would like to extend an invitation to our first class passengers and anyone traveling with small children to board at this time.”

As Allegiant doesn’t have a First Class section on their planes, who benefits?

And wait a minute!

What if everyone pays the Priority Boarding Fee?

Hang on a second … if the square root of the trigonomic function of the co-lateral triangle intersects at the corner of the bisected dimensional force and we add a few parsecs and space anomalies in the equations allowing us to travel back in time …

We now have 120-150 people trying to get on the plane at the same time! (depending on whether you are on the MD-83 or MD-87 configuration)

And did I mention that the airline just took in $900 to $1125 of easy money on full flights? Who needs to go to Vegas?

4. Seat Charge

Seat Assignments: Pre-purchased seat assignments start at $11 per passenger, per segment.

The last time I checked it was MANDATORY to sit in your seat while taking off and landing. FAA rule, blah, blah, blah states …

Flight attendants will yell and scream at you to sit your rump in a seat, AND, fasten your seatbelt, BEFORE the plane can even back up. It’s the rules!

So why are they charging me to sit if I have to do it anyway?

Oh, wait a minute! Better question (obvious answer) why are they charging me more to sit CLOSER to the front of the plane than in the back?

Even Mr. Roger’s could answer that question. Can you say, GREED? Excuse me, I mean “Customer Convenience”

Of all of the charges THE SEAT CHARGE is the most bogus of all to me.

The Question of Why?

So why did I put up with any of the charges?

1. Because it was a direct flight to my non-major destination.
2. It was still cheaper (but not by much) for a 1-stop flight on another airline (even with all of their additional fees).

Am I picking on Allegiant because they are the only airline tacking on these fees?

Absolutely not!

Allegiant is not the only airline playing this game and they certainly weren’t the first. Actually the grand daddy of all of this is US Air (and RyanAir in Europe). Other U.S. carriers were cautious, then wholeheartedly jumped on the band wagon (except Southwest … at least for now).

Is it here to stay? The fees? The a la carte pricing?

You bet! Every airline corporate spokesperson is extremely excited about their newfound gravy train! They all swear it’s not going away!

So, as the economy stays in a slump for all of us travelers who keep those airlines in business, they have found their own unique way to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in several years ago. (Of course they will blame the high fuel costs.)

Is A La Carte pricing a bad thing?

Maybe not! Some of the fees do have some merit (if you’re not checking any luggage for example, you get a break). But springing it on the public as a way of adding to their bottom line, and then blissfully saying that ALL passengers agree with them is not a very market savvy way of doing business.

Who’s To Blame?

I certainly don’t blame the front line employees of any of the airlines for these ideas, or institution of them. I am sure pilots, flight attendants and baggage handlers weren’t sitting around in a bar thinking up ways to tack on fees to the passengers that they have to see every day.

These fees are high level corporate decisions from those who don’t have to face their customers every day. The buffer/void between corporate higher ups and the public they serve has always been an interesting story.

Calculator Necessary

Grab a calculator and several credit cards the next time you consider flying just about anywhere in the world and be assured that you are helping an industry that is becoming more creative in finding ways to take your money.

Come back tomorrow for a trip down below -to  a spectacular cave


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