A $450 airline fee?
Yes, there is such a thing. A new survey illustrates that we're paying dearly for services that used to be cheaper or included in the ticket price.
It seems the sky's the limit for airline fees, according to a new survey by USA Today. The highest fee is now a stratospheric $450 charge by American Airlines for overweight bags on Asian flights.
If you fly closer to home, you're not off the hook. Fees for the first checked regulation-weight bag now top out at $43. Post continues after video.
Small wonder that in the first three months of 2011, airlines took in $1.38 billion just from baggage and change-reservation fees, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. (Baggage fees accounted for about $783 million of that.)
"That's $59 million more than they collected in the first quarter of last year, and $1.1 billion more than the first three months of 2007, when extra fees first began to appear," USA Today reports. This is the same industry that's bent out of shape about the Obama administration's plan to gradually increase the fee travelers pay for airport security.
Those change-reservation fees range from $50 to $150 for domestic flights, and are generally much higher when you fly outside the country. Checked-bag fees are all over the map, starting with $0 at Southwest and JetBlue. You can find USA Today's complete listing of fees here (and our hat's off to Gary Stoller, who did the research).
Here are some other highlights of USA Today's new survey:
- They'll usually charge you to book your free frequent-flier flight on the phone, and some even charge you if you do it yourself online.
- Discounts that were available for those who paid fees online seem to be going the way of the dodo bird.
- Blessedly, Spirit Airlines is still the only carrier that charges for carry-on bags.
The airlines' dependence on fees prompted Andy Murdock at the Lonely Planet blog to speculate about possible future fees. A few highlights:
Accurate departure gate info -- $5.
Guaranteed Gerard Depardieu-free aisle -- $5.
Having chatty neighbor moved to other seat -- $100.
Air sick bags -- $5 reserved in advance, $100 at moment of need.
$1 per square of toilet paper, or buy five get one free!
That "chatty neighbor" fee almost seems worth it, no?
But, seriously, folks, what's an airline passenger to do? MSN Money's Liz Weston offered some suggestions in "How to beat pesky airline fees." Note: Since that article was written, new federal rules compel airlines to clearly disclose fees at their websites.
- Travel light. Blogger "MJP" at Go To Retirement says carrying a small backpack instead of a suitcase is "traveling light -- boomer style." I ordered a carry-on backpack that's roomy enough to hold all I need for an upcoming two-week trip (including a clothesline to hang my hand-washed garb on) and will fit under any seat.
- Get the right credit card. Airlines often waive the checked-bag fee if you're carrying their brand of plastic.
The reality is, we'd just better get used to it. Airlines fees are so profitable that they're not going away.
More on MSN Money:
As always you have the power to change this. If everyone was really tired of this,
refusing to fly for 1 week would change all the BS including the TSA. There are
2 things that people understand , a hit in the head or the wallet. The American
people choose to be divided and conquered. people get what they get,
so stop bitching.......
I now see her logic - she sends most of her clothes and laptop and other items via UPS and when she arrives it has already been delivered. Never been lost or diverted, cost maybe $25.00. She boards her flight with a fanny pack and enough clothes for a 1 day emergency. She's 82 and I think she's onto something!
How about making the fees illegal. Or better yet, allow the passengers to charge a fee.
1) Late departure - $100 per 1/2 hour
2) Lost luggage - $500 per item + the value of the content of the luggage, TBD by customer.
3) Snotty steward/stewardess - Free drinks.
4) Turbulance - $50 per bump
5) Masks come down out of ceiling - 3 free plane tickets and change of underwear.
6) Late arrival - See late departure
Time to fight back!!!!
The last time I was going to fly it was from Alabama to Pittsburgh. The plane had a problem and they were going to put me on a later flight and divert me to Atlanta. I told them refund the money and drove. IF I could have got a seat on the soonest connection after they dumped me in Atlanta, I still beat the jet into Pittsburgh by an hour.
Figuring getting to the airport early, going through security, waiting, the dogleg, waiting and the time for driving from the airport at the other end, it takes only about 2 hours more to drive FROM HUNTSVILLE, AL to PITTSBURGH, PA. I also don't like being treated like cattle, a terrorist, or crammed into the new smaller seats all the airlines seem to be using...not to mention the extra "fees". I don't plan on flying again.
I do wish there was a better train connection, though and that train fares were a little cheaper. I am not sure why AMTRACK thinks charging the same rate as an airline is going to get it more customers when the train takes so much longer. I think the price point to really spark interest in train travel would be about 40 percent less than airfare.
>>> Emirates charged me over $550 USD for a bag that was 1.5 kilos over the limit. When i asked them to let me have the bag to take a book out that would put me under the limit, they refused to do so
They would have gotten a letter from my lawyer, suing them for extortion. There comes a time when common sense must prevail.
Anyway, airlines generally get less of my business these days because I have a 800 mile rule of thumb. Trips less than 800 miles each way generally make more sense to drive than to fly.
I'm waiting for the day to come when they start making people step on scales and paying for their own weight to get on the plane.
The last time I flew was ridiculous (through Spirit airlines). First, I ordered the ticket online. Then, they wanted to charge me $30 per carryon, or $40 per checked bag up to 40 lbs. Then, they wanted to charge me $15 per seat to select my seat in advance (I waited until the day of the flight).
After spending all of this money (by selecting my cheapest options), I arrived to the airport only to be told prematurely that my flight was cancelled. After arguing for 5 minutes, I convinced her to look on the computer - it wasn't cancelled.
I don't understand how airlines are allowed to charge people so much money and then treat their customers in that kind of manner. I feel really bad for the person who was charged $550 and not even given the option to get the bag under the limit.
Just read many of the comments here and it appears Soutwest Airlines is the airline to fly these days. Hey does anyone know if their newly acquired Air Tran flys direct from Phoenix to the Caribbean. That would be nice!
Most major airlines these days are out for your wallet and they dont give a damn about you as a customer. The only airline I really enjoy flying with anymore is Southwest Airlines!!!..I have flown Southwest on numerous occasions and never encountered a problem with a flight, or rude staff member. In fact, they a fun, friendly and I love the fact they don't assign seats or charge ridiculous fees for baggage.
Only at southwest.com
The other airlines hate them yes, because they've never taken a bailout, and have always been profitable
Bags are free, change is free, online is free
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.