This Travel Tip Tuesday, we are talking about US airline fees. Lots and lots of fees. And they are rising before our very eyes.
Do you remember when you would stand on line at airport check-in behind a family of four going to visit their family for Christmas? Dad was pushing a rolling cart jam packed with 8 suitcases and 15 gift wrapped boxes teetering on top. He paid zippo, zilch, nada in additional charges for that baggage.
Do you remember when customer service was of utmost importance and you could speak to a reservation agent at the airline, anytime, who would gladly book your ticket, just because you were a paying customer?
Why, just last year on my flight to Paris and back, I received complimentary wine with my dinner at no extra charge!
Well folks, I hate to break it to ya, but those days are over.
Now, please, don't get me wrong. I understand that there are certain things that we all should be charged extra for.
No one person should be allowed Carte Blanche on the number of suitcases they carry. And it should cost a little something to take a pet on board, don't you agree?
But some of the fees being leveled and the outlandish things they are charging for is gettin' downright ridiculous!
The fact that oil is trading at nearly $140 a barrel is killing the airline industry. So, they are trying to make up the difference, somehow.
I get it. Really. I do.
Airlines have to make more money. It would be easier in my opinion, to just raise the ticket prices. But instead they get sneaky and tricky by nickel-and-diming you on little hidden fees.
Except of course for Southwest Airlines, who boldly advertises 'No Surprise Fees' on their website home page.
Sign of the times, I guess.
I have compiled a small list of some of the recent fees I was able to find. This is not an all-encompassing list, as that would have taken painstaking hours of research, which I don't have.
>> Jet Blue has raised their fee to change a ticket to $100. United's fee is $150.
>> Airlines that offer curb side check-in are charging between $3 and $5 a bag.
>> Worked long and hard to earn that free ticket with Frequent Flier miles? Well, on US Airways it'll cost you $25-$50, just to redeem them through a ticket agent now.
>> Pets taken on board the cabin can be $50 one-way, but Fido will have to get a part-time job to afford his $200 pet
ticketfee on Frontier.
>> Premium seats are gonna cost you. Virgin America charges from $15-$50 for bulkhead and exit row. Northwest aisle and window seats can cost $50 on international flights.
>> Soda, juice, coffee and water, yes, water will cost $2. Alcohol will be $7.
>> And speaking of checked bags. American was the leader in rolling out a $15 charge for your first checked bag. Each way. That's $30 round-trip. Now, US Airways has jumped on the bandwagon.
So, what are you to do?
Some solutions are obvious. Use your e-tickets, solidify your plans so that you don't have to change your tickets, don't check a bag-just carry-on your bag and don't use the curb side check-in.
The next step is to be smart and informed.
Consult the airlines website to see what their fees are. Each airline is required by the Department of Transportation to disclose their fees.
If you are having a hard time finding the information on the company website, make a toll-free call to the airline and ask to speak to someone about their fees. Again, you are entitled to know.
If you find yourself saddled with a charge that you really knew nothing about, or that you felt the airline failed to disclose, try fighting it! Always ask to speak to a supervisor when you plead your case.
And finally, I have seen a new and very controversial idea on the pricing of airline tickets being kicked around in the news and in the blogosphere. I thought I would share it with you and see what your thoughts are.
Many are proposing that individuals should be charged for their airline ticket according to how much they weigh!! This would mean that Calista Flockhart would pay about $5 to say uh, Dom DeLuise's $600.
And let it be known that I am no Skinny-Minnie, so I would not be on the $5 end of the spectrum.
I see this as unfair, as well as a violation of privacy. I could see the Supreme Court all over it as a violation of civil rights. But hey, that's just me.
I want to know what you think! Are you ready to be weighed like a Samsonite in front of your fellow passengers in order to regulate airline ticket prices?
Now it's your turn to weigh in! Pun intended.
And then head over to Cherrye's blog for 12 ways to save money in Europe.