More Flexibility, More Fees

Yesterday American Airlines announced a new program: the Boarding and Flexibility Package. This fee, anywhere from $9-19, allows passengers several new ‘options.’ Read today’s CNN article here: ‘Latest Airline Fee? Early Boarding.’

Here are the included features:

  • Be placed in a priority boarding group. You don’t get on the plane before Elite status members or special needs passengers, but before everyone else.
  • Half-price on flight change fees. Instead of a hefty $150 to change a flight, it’s only $75 and free stand-by on earlier, same day flights.
  • This applies to everyone in your ‘reservation per-person charge’, whatever that means.

Christopher Elliot, writer of the Elliot bog, consumer traveler advocate and affiliated writer with National Geographic, MSNBC, and The Washington Post, made a few comments about these new fees and how ridiculous they are. He compared this decision to the overwhelmingly popular ‘charge for the first checked bag’ fee that American Airlines also pioneered.

The biggest problem is air travel is a financially irresponsible business to be involved in. The costs of planes, equipment, fuel (astronomical thanks to BP), crew members, ground crew, maintenance crew, the list goes on, are incredibly difficult to manage in a consumer climate where we expect to pay a lot less for the same products. At least with Ryan Air in Europe you know you’re going to pay for every extra thing.

The best bet for American airline companies is to go the Ryan Air route: advertise that you charge for everything. And make flight prices accordingly. So congratulations airline executives of America. You’re slowly training a new generation to look for hidden fees instead of expecting everything to come included.

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