Airlines collected less in bag fees than in the last two years, but are charging more for the little extras. Bag fees are down four percent from 2012, but US airlines still made a reported $3.35 billion in bag fees in 2013.
Bag fees are down, but the charges for things like getting a better seat, food, and early boarding are on the rise.
For example, airlines raised $2.81 billion last year from fees for changing a reservation or ticket, a 10 percent increase over 2012, making changing tickets and similar services the big money makers for many airlines.
So why the sudden switch from bag fees being one of the largest streams of revenue to these small services and perks becoming more lucrative? Robert Mann, a former American Airlines executive and now an aviation consultant, thinks he knows why. He said money from bag fees has fallen off because the mix of passengers has changed.
"You have more people exempt (from the fee) because they use the right credit card or they get status in the airline's loyalty program," he said. "The passenger who gets whacked by the bag fee is the infrequent flier."
He also thinks more of those infrequent fliers are choosing alternate transportation, like traveling by car, bus or Amtrak, in order to save money.He also believes airlines are making basic economy tickets uncomfortable on purpose so that passenger will be somewhat forced into purchasing extras like seat upgrades.
Jim Weck, a telecommunications company program manager from Atlanta, speaks for most I think when he says that it's time for the airlines to pay back their customers for the support they had when all the bag fees and other fees skyrocketed during the recession and the rising fuel costs that resulted.
"We helped you in your hour of need; now it's time to give back," Weck said. "No matter what industry you're in, people don't like being nickel-and-dimed."
This is so true. Will this outcry from customers result in some cutting back on fees for the people who don't fly all the time or don't have the right credit card? Let's hope so!
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