2008 ushered in a wave of new airline fees, mergers & consolidations and bankruptcies for the North American airline industry.
Low cost Columbus based carrier Skybus, Denver based Frontier and even Southwest Airlines deep pockets could not keep Indianapolis based American Trans Air in the air.
Legacy carriers Delta and Northwest have agreed to merge into what will become the largest US airline surpassing American Airlines for that distinction. The rumor mills have been active with mentions of United, Continental and USAirways as possible merger partners.
In today’s unregulated airline climate these business failures and mergers may not bode well for the traveler. Decreased competition will most likely lead to increased fares and possibly a reduction in smaller less profitable markets. Can you say Huntington Tri-State or Charleston’s Yeager Field are viable candidates?
As fuel costs spiral out of control the carriers are looking for additional revenues streams and it appears that al la carte pricing for services is the current trend.
The cost of your ticket may not have increased that much since that last time you flew but the extra fees might leave you breathless and a few (or many) dollars lighter.
I need to figure out how I can pack a week’s worth of clothes into my golf bag and carry on bag.
Here is a list for new fees and what may have been free services that you will now that to pay for. NOTE: This is not an all inclusive list and please be sure to check with the carrier or your booking agent to verify current fees and/or charges.
Air Canada: $25 each way for a second checked bag started May 15
AirTran: $10 each way for a second checked bag started May 15
Alaska Airlines and Horizon: $15 to book flights through reservation agents or airport sales desk starting May 21
American Airlines: $25 each way for a second checked bag starting May 12; $3 for snacks, $5 for "fresh light meals" on domestic flights (sandwiches or wraps, no vegetarian options); eliminated online booking bonus of 500 miles for round-trip first- or business-class tickets, and 250 miles for round-trip coach fares
Continental: $25 each way for a second checked bag started May 5
Delta: $25 each way for a second checked bag started May 5; airline provides complimentary snacks, but some snacks and meals cost an extra $1 to $8, depending on the item
JetBlue: $10 for extra legroom, and $20 each way for a second checked bag starting June 1
Northwest: $25 each way for a second checked bag started May 5
Spirit: $10 fee for checked luggage reserved online, and a $20 fee for luggage checked at the airport
Southwest: $25 each way for a third checked bag and $50 for the fourth through ninth bags
United: $25 each way for a second checked bag; $5 for snack boxes, with sandwiches and salads available at varying prices; increased ticket change fee; Saturday night stays are now required for tickets in 65 percent of the markets it serves
US Airways: $25 each way for a second checked bag; eliminated the 500-mile minimum mileage award granted for short-haul flights; will charge between $5 and $30 each way for aisle and window seats started May 7, matching other carriers.
Expect the airlines to uncover and add many more novel means of increasing their revenues.
For years in the US we have had a per piece free baggage allowance and the norm was two checked bags per paying passengers. Today the free bag allowance on most carriers has been scaled back to one. We travelers will have to learn how to pack more efficiently.
I’ve often told folks to lay everything that they plan to take on their trip then only pack half of it. A good friend frequently reminds me that there will be a Wal-Mart once we arrive and I can purchase my replacement golf ball on location instead of paying extra to transport them.