What airline fees would be worth the cost?
Being nickel-and-dimed by the airlines has irritated many passengers, but some would be willing to pay extra for child-free flights, among other things.
Airline fees for this and that are annoying and accumulating at a rapid pace. But are some fees actually worth the cost? And are the airlines missing out by not charging for some things we would be happy to pay extra for?
For instance, some recent surveys and reader polls indicate that travelers would be willing to pay more for child-free flights. Post continues after video:
Meanwhile, fees of all sorts have really taken off, providing airlines with a profit again. Among the latest, according to The Street and other sources:
- Delta will begin charging $80 to $160 for "Economy Comfort" seats on international flights. For that, you get a seat that reclines more than those filled by cheapskates, plus more legroom, early boarding and free drinks.
- JetBlue is raising its second-checked-bag fee to $35, a $5 increase.
- Expect no more free pretzels and cookies from Continental.
- Allegiant may follow Spirit Airlines' lead by charging for carry-on bags.
The concept of a child-free zone has really caught on with travelers. A survey by Skyscanner of 2,000 people found that 59% would like to see a special family section on flights and about 20% would like child-free flights.
A survey of British business travelers about what annoys them the most produced the following results:
- The presence of children, 74%.
- Travelers with a free upgrade to first class, 18%. (Tsk-tsk.)
- Not enough space between first class and coach, 15%.
- Paying first class and getting coach-like service, 12%.
That survey prompted The Consumerist to ask if people would be willing to pay extra for child-free flights and, if so, how much. Just under 34% of readers picked "no." The rest would be willing to pay, most picking $25 or $50.
Moriah Norris-Hale asked a similar question at Bundle.
Among the many comments left at those sites, two common opinions stood out:
- Tune 'em out. "I'd probably take the money I would have spent on the child-free flight and invest in a really good pair of noise-canceling earphones," a Bundle reader wrote. Noise-canceling headphones are on The Street's list of "6 essentials for airline travel survival." (Tell that to the woman who sued Qantas Airways over hearing loss after sitting next to a toddler on a flight from New York to Australia. The airline settled).
- Blame the parents. One reader said: "Parents who are so overawed by the seeming miraculousness of their children's existence that it would never occur to restrain or discipline them make me want to vomit." (Donna Freedman offers some suggestions to parents who are clueless about how to keep their children quietly occupied.)
What other fees do travelers think are/would be worthwhile? The New York Times' Bucks blog asked its readers about that. Among the responses:
- Charge for carry-on INSTEAD OF checked bags. Apparently people are tired of others hogging all the overhead space.
- An extra charge for extra-wide seats.
- A fee for on-time arrival, refunded if the plane is late.
- An extra fee for overweight people, or the option of paying a fee not to sit next to one.
The no-child-on-my-flight idea was very popular with NYT readers. But those in the travel business don't expect it to become a reality -- it wouldn't make economic sense for the airlines. However, child-free sections might fly, particularly on larger planes, some expect.
What would you add to this discussion?
More from MSN Money:
How can one guarantee a child-free flight? Wouldn't they then need to have highly impractical duplicate flights, going to the same location? How would they justify refusing a paying customer with a child if there was no "separate but equal" accomodation?
I don't always love other people's kids either, but I don't hate on them or their parents for having the audacity to go out, travel, and generally be human beings in public. I know it is not always an option to leave them at home. Seriously, just spend the money for the headphones and deal with it.
I just flew home from vacation and there were children on the plane, including two babies. The children were well behaved, only one of the babies ever cried. I don't mind having children on
board. I would not pay more for a flight free of children.
How about subdividing and #ing the overhead spaces, just like seats? Can't get it all in the overhead and entirely under ONLY the seat in front of you? It gets checked. Note - whenever I see an abuse (like huge carry-ons, or first drop off with the dealer maintenance courtesy shuttle, it usually involves a pushy, threatening-looking, football-player-sized man.)
On those rare meal flights, the chance to make your food selection upon reservation, so that you don't have to settle for something you don't want because the airline ran out.
Seats selections guaranteed at time of reservation for all flights. Hate requests to move to a crappier seat when the reason isn't valid, and requesting passenger is trying to use guilt to score a better seat (e.g., parent wants to sit beside a child old enough to sit separately; couples wanting to engage in disgusting PDAs).
Child-free sounds like heaven, but animals in the cabin are fine. Wish the doggies and kitties they would be allowed out, so we can play with them or snuggle with a lap pet and take a nice warm nap!
Two-person-wide aisles would be nice. Don't think a walled non-stinky passenger section is possible, but one can dream...
I don't get either of these:
I flew on the last flight out of England to the USA when the
liquid terrorist scare occurred in August 2006. No one was allowed a carry-on and the aircraft was boarded and we deplaned the fastest I’d ever seen.
Although I prefer to travel light, usually with one small carry-on, I feel the airlines should charge for carry-ons. Many business personnel tend to abuse the rules by carrying on more than they’re allowed, hogging the overhead bins, taking longer to load and unload their bags – all in an effort to avoid delays at baggage claim. And even though the airlines make the announcement, “one carry-on and one personal item”, they don’t enforce it. I’m always seeing people with two carry-ons and a purse or laptop bag or they’ll bring on a bag that’s obviously too big
for the overhead bin.
I suppose an allowance can be made for rookie flyers, but sometimes I feel there are those who know they can get away with it and think, “why not?” Charge for the carry-on and allow free check-ins and the penny-pinchers will help expedite the boarding process. The business personnel that write it off will carry-on anyway.
Is there an option to pay an extra fee for a busines-free flight? No businesspeople, as they are obviously the most polite flyers, just lots of children and other "inconveniences".
The idea that American travelers are so annoyed by child airline passengers is a testimony to how impatient and narrow-minded we have become. I have been traveling with my daughter, (now 7 years old) internationally and domestically since she was a baby. On a recent domestic flight to the west coast, I was appalled by a comment from a man sitting in front of us: "I had no idea a kid was sitting behind me!....if I'd known that I would have tried to switch seats, but she was pretty quiet." Where do I begin with this comment? As a parent, it is our responsibilty to ensure that our children do not act in a manner which would disrupt other passengers, (i.e. kicking seat in front of them, running in the aisles etc.) However, we are owed a little patience and perhaps COMPASSION if our little ones upon occasion suffer from ear discomfort on the decent and perhaps shed a tear or two.
A brief note on international travel: I have found that international passengers tend to understand that kid passengers are just part of life. The tendency has been for other travelers to offer me enormous support and assistance during flight, whether that meant something as simple as offering to carry the diaper bag while I carried my child. Or, as my daughter has gotten older, getting out a deck cards and offering to play "go fish".
My point??? Shelling out more cash to be away from children during your precious business travel experience will not solve the bigger issue problem. The only way to fully avoid potential inconveniences like children, overweight people, handicapped indviduals, folks with too-large carry-ons, and people who have eaten too much garlic is to pay the premium for Business-Elite Travel or First Class. Too expensive?? Try a little compassion for your fellow traveler and get out of your self-centered world for a brief moment. A little perspective does wonders to calm the nerves....
I'd pay extra to get off a plane first, especially if I have a tight connection or urgent business.
I'm old enough to remember when a certain part of the plane was designated as the "smoking" section. I'd gladly pay an extra $25 bucks to sit in the "adults only" section. Yes, I've got children myself and I can sympathise with parents traveling with small kids, but it gets annoying when it suddenly becomes my problem. I paid for my seat, and just want to sit quietly, work on my laptop, watch a movie, or read a book. The last time I flew I had a woman with a child spread across her body that kept kicking me in his sleep, rolled over and knocked my drink off the tray, and soiled himself three feet from my face, while they were both sleeping, nearly forcing me to use the airsick bag.
Families on vacation have certain needs and challanges that shouldn't spill over to the rest of us, and I certainly shouldn't find myself tortured for six hours because I was unlucky enough to end up next to some folks like that.
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