US Airlines are making a profit, thanks to additional fees for baggage, for changing reservations, even for aisle seating on some airlines.
I am sure we all read the reports from the US Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics very carefully, but for those few out there who don't here's little gem in their latest report for last year's air traveling public:
"Total revenue for all passenger airlines for the full year 2012 was $159.5 billion.
All U.S. passenger airlines collected a total in 2012 of $3.5 billion in baggage fees
and $2.6 billion from reservation change fees. "
Who cares? The airlines apparently do, and perhaps other service providers are thinking that there's a revenue stream we may be missing. Nice fit, since all of us put up with these charges on airlines, even the up-graders, since somewhere in their fare is an offset for that pillow, blanket, and extra bag allowance.
So next time you check into a room and see a charge for the one ounce bottle of shampoo (full bottle extra) just remember that I warned you!
I was very surprised recently to discover a trend in foreign airlines to charge for seat selection. When we purchased our airberlin tickets through travelocity, I noticed that there was no option to select our seats (and I should know better than to purchase an airline ticket through a 3rd party site anyway...). After completing the ticket purchase, I contacted airberlin only to find out that seat selection was now a privilege that could be purchased for $20/seat/leg. We went ahead and purchased the seat selection for the transoceanic leg, and opted out of a seat assignment purchase for the hop from Dusseldorf to Munich. I just figured it was airberlin, but then when I purchased our Qantas tickets last week, I was honestly shocked to find that they have adopted the same practice, only at a rate of $25/seat. The emergency exit seat assignments can be purchased for - $180/seat/leg. Because the flight is so long, we almost purchased an EE seat, until I read the fine print. If for any subjective reason Qantas deems a passenger unqualified to work the emergency exit doors, they may re-assign the passenger and the fee will be forfeit. For long haul flights, a pre-selected seat assignment is a must, in order to avoid the odious middle seat, so the airlines really have us over a barrel. Honestly, $1800 for a RT economy ticket and they are going to charge us an additional fee to select a seat, something that was alway free? And unlike extra baggage, which obviously affects cost, how does seat selection affect the cost of doing business? That's like charging for online check-in and the printing of a boarding pass (just wait). I am now waiting for the ball to drop regarding the free checked bag on international flights.
This is one reason why I love flying the smaller aircrafts on domestic flights, which because of the small cabin storage size, must use the carry-on baggage gate-check procedure, for which the baggage cart folks don't seem to care what size bag you give them. It's a great way to circumvent the domestic baggage fees.
And yes, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if non-CL level rooms went the way of nickel-diming.
My opinions are based upon personal experience. The service levels on inter-continental flights with foreign airlines have always been superior over their American competitors in my personal experience, and admittedly, fares do seem to cost a bit more, again in my experience, but again, worth it. But this charging of fees for a practice that was once standard and doesn't cost the airlines one red cent (and to Shoe's point, with no base price discount) is very annoying. I will be curious to see if any other major European airlines (Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, BA, etc.) follow suit.
I believe we should all have mixed feelings about the add-0ns issue. On the one hand, none of us like the idea of having to pay for something that, in the past was part of the quoted cost. On the other hand, ala cart menu's for everything from restaurants, to purchasing auto's, air travel, all-inclusive vacations, makes some sense, hypothetically, in that you only pay for what you use. Why pay the buffet price when you will only be eating one plate full, etc. The problem is that we are losing benefits, then being asked to pay additional charges to get them back. that's the rub...........