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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Trend: Airline Perk Fees

Revenue-hungry airlines charge for service perks such as aisle seats.

Unable to squeeze enough money from us by charging us for pop and sandwiches onboard, the airline industry is trying a new wheeze by charging passengers "special fees" for perks such as aisle seats, same day flight changes, sitting in the emergency row and soon perhaps, charging bags for check in.

Bankrupt Northwest joins United, American and others this week with it's new Coach Choice program in which the carrier will save some preferred coach seating on the aisle or emergency-exit rows until check-in. Passengers can pay $15 per flight to sit in those seats, which may offer more room.

Analysts told Reuters that travelers should brace for more nickel and diming as airlines seek to recoup losses from soaring fuel costs and competitive pressures.

"We're just scratching the surface. I think 2006 is going to bring a tremendous amount of changes," said Terry Trippler, an analyst with travel Web site "I think it's going to be the difference between a black bottom line and a red one," he added.

A next step -- one that may be controversial -- could be that airlines will start charging for bag checking, said Cheapseats' Trippler. Generally, airlines do not charge to check bags that weigh 50 pounds or less. Many charge for bags that weigh 51 pounds or more.

The possibilities for special fees are almost limitless, Trippler said. Airlines just need to be creative.

Check the piece on Reuters here:

via PSFK and Reuters

1 comment:

Planning Guy said...

You can just imagine where this is headed. It's not as if the expectations of flyers aren't already at an all time low. This is a promising way for airlines to weaken already fragile brand loyalty even further.

Some hotels engaged in this practice a few years back, where they nickle and dimed their guests as well as charged them a king's ransom for things such as internet access. There was a backlash of course.