In his weekly AIRFAREWATCHDOG column,George Hobica writes:
"Yes, it's true: more airline fees. American just announced it would raise its first and second bag fees by $5, and no you don't get a discount for booking online, as you do with Continental, US Air, Delta, and United, all of which also raised their fees by $5. But are more fees on the way? We think so.
If past experience is any indicator, Airfarewatchdog fears that several new ones could be tacked on to your fare, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, soon, and for the rest of your flying life. The question is probably more when, than if. There are even rumors that Southwest, the lone holdout on baggage fees, may change course if it continues to lose money.
Airlines are making lots of money charging fees for checked baggage, ticket changes, frequent flyer programs and other services (see our updated chart), a lesson they learned from discount carriers in Europe, such as Ryanair and easyJet (at least Ryanair puts every single one of its fees in one handy chart, something that we wish all airlines would do). But these foreign carriers charge for services that would seem unimaginable in the US-until, that is, you start seeing them on your credit card. And if Ryanair ever flies to the US, which it keeps threatening to do, that may embolden US carriers to emulate them further.
No, you probably will never see a charge for using the onboard lavatories, at least not in the US (Ryanair insists they're serious about adding one) or for overweight passengers (another Ryanair threat). But here are 11 fees we won't be surprised to be paying as US airlines continue to lose millions..and learn from foreign-based low cost carriers.
1. In person airport check in. Ryanair will soon be charging you if you need human intervention to get a boarding pass at the airport (in fact, they're getting rid ofairport check agents entirely). Ditching check in counters would allow US airlines to eliminate staff and save millions. So you'd get a boarding pass online before heading for the airport, pay for your bags online, put them on the conveyor belt yourself, then head for the gate.
2. Online check in. Ryanair already charges £5 (about $8) for this, and since you'll soon have to check in online, there's no way around it. Or how about a "discount" for using an airport kiosk to check in, which would amount to paying a fee if you don't?
3. Paying with a credit card. Several European airlines charge a fee for this already, and also charge (albeit a bit less) for debit card purchases. Only way around this is to pay with cash (not so hard to do with those $2 Ryanair fares). Maybe no fee if you use the airline's co-branded credit card?
4. Priority boarding fee. Pay a little bit extra (maybe $5) and after the parents with small children and elite frequent flyer members get boarded, you're next, with early dibs at the overhead bins.
5. Booking on line. One US airline, Allegiant, already charges for online bookings, as well as for phone bookings (only way to avoid a fee is to pay at the airport). They call it a convenience fee. Whose convenience, exactly?
6. Advanced seat selection. Several US and foreign discount carriers, including Allegiant of course, already charge for this perk. We wouldn't be surprised to see other airlines follow suit. British Airways limits advance selection on its cheapest fares to 24 hours in advance (essentially charging a fee in the form of a much higher fare).
7. More frequent flyer fees. You already pay to cash in miles on short notice, to redeposit those miles if you don't use them, to change your frequent flyer ticket itinerary and for other "services". How about a fee to preserve frequent flyer miles when there's no activity in your account (say per mile fee to protect miles from expiring, although you can do this if you make a purchase with the airlines' online shopping malls or use an airline credit card among other methods). Next year, United will start charging co-pays for upgrading with miles, even on domestic fares.
8. Name change fees. As long as you give notice far in enough in advance, might the airlines let you transfer a ticket you can't use to another person for a fee ($100? $150?). Ryanair, surprise, charges for this.
9. Carry on bag fee. They charge for checked bags, so why not for cabin luggage? This might actually help flights board faster, and save airlines money from time lost on the ground.
10. Infant fee. No more free rides on domestic flights for those lap riders 2 years and under. Ryanair currently charges £20 (about $33) per child. Airlines already charge 10 percent of the adult fare for infants on international flights.
11. Surcharges for musical instruments. Anyone who has seen that video about the broken guitar will understand why Ryanair charges £30 (about $50) for checking a musical instrument. Probably has something to do with the liability of transporting these fragile items. Or maybe, just maybe, it's to boost the bottom line."
These fees continue to drive business away from these airlines, and likely cause them to lose more revenue than they gain from the fees. I used to be a loyal Delta and American customer, but now fly Southwest whenever possible. Most of my business collegues have done the same thing.
At some point, the airlines need to realize that you can't nickel and dime your customers to death without losing customers. Hopefully, Marriott will recognize that customer alienation does not help their bottom line.
Thank you so much for the link to the Airline Fee Charts! I have used this info in the past, and then could not find the site again. The information is handy in a chart form and I have just printed it to refer to when I need to book a flight. It is so cumbersome to have to go to each site to check these fees out.
Do you have other travel sites that you find informative like this? Is there a site that compares hotel reward programs in the same way? I sure do hope that Marriott does not resort to this same nickel and diming of their rates or point redemptions.
I hope there is a similar chart but at this stage have not seen it anywhere. Problem is that the hotels change their goodies all the time, and for limited times. Perhaps we collectively can make up the chart. I am in MR, HH, Starwood, IHC and some other smaller programs--so if I find the time I can make one up.
"nickel and dime"
That's exactly my reaction.
Earlier this year more than 700,000 frequent travelers voted for the airlines and hotel brands they feel the most loyal about in the Freddie Awards. In a disappointing finish, Marriott lost Best Award Redemption to Hilton, but Marriott more than made up for it by sweeping the Freddie Awards with coveted first place awards in nine categories including Best Web Site, Best Program and Best Customer Service.*
Turning to the airlines, Continental, USAir, Delta, United and Ryanair all failed to win anything in the Freddies. Only American took a first place in Best Promotion. By 'nickel and diming', the major players have done a disservice to their customers, themselves and their shareholders.
Let's hope Marriott connects-the-dots and gains from the lessons learned by the airlines.
I wrote a reply to your posting a few days ago. But I wanted to add that yesterday my husband was notified that United ( he is a premier member ) is eliminating their last minute award booking fees. In the past few years they have tacked on fees up to $100 to book award travel less than 21 days in advance and as of July 30, they are removing these close-in award processing fees.
This is wonderful news! I don't know if this is for all of their mileage plus members or just their top tier, but it is a welcome decision from their marketing department and one that I hope other airlines will follow.
luv2travel: got an email from UAL with the same welcome information! At last they seem to be understanding that they have to come back down from the notion that we will take any dimunition in service in stride and not look elsewhere.
As a former 1K and Premier Exec with United I got decent treatment until I stopped flying. Since then United treats me as everyone else--no perks, no nothing, so I tend to use Jet Blue for my now infrequent airline needs. They are nice, the seats are far apart and the service is also very good.
I am participating in their focus groups and some of the things we've suggested to Jet Blue are in the works, so that's an added bonus.
Hotels have actually been removing fees this year for items like internet, parking, and breakfast. Hyatt changed their terms to allow elites free internet access. InterContinental Hotels has been giving Ambassador members free internet access most of the year.
Special offer rates thru hotel websites have had more frequent value-added amenities like breakfast and free parking at a comparable rate to the otherwise lowest rates.
This trend has been particularly noticeable at the upper upscale and luxury hotel level. These hotel market segments have seen the largest decline in occupancy in the past year according to travel research firms like Smith Travel Research.
While airlines nickel and dime every service imaginable, the trend has not spread to hotels. The major difference is airlines are reducing capacity while hotels are stuck with adding capacity due to new hotel openings from projects started before the travel downturn. You can't pick up a hotel and store it in the Mojave Desert waiting for conditions to improve.
My Loyalty Traveler blog offers comparative analysis between hotel programs.
Thanks for the tip about 'Announcing the newer, truer TrueBlue' e-mail and program changes:
We've flown JetBlue R/T at least once every year for eleven consecutive years and at least twice R/T every year since 2004. When service opened at LaGuardia, we flew even more.
TrueBluers like myself would really do a back-flip if JetBlue restored passenger flight history and reinstated the points. It's really not very much, but having the promise of one free flight in the near future would certainly earn a '10' in the Freddies from me.
The new fees are not unexpected. at my age I have seen charges go to just about everything. Delta, U.S. Air have just about charged me out of their markets. You know when you fly as many miles as I have on a airline, then you see them start giving out miles to go buy toilet paper, it kind of destroys the loyalty that you once had for the airline. When they take away your awards that they passed out so frugally years ago, and charge you for everything, it is like they are saying " We got you" the new fees, are not fair to me. The planes I fly on are packed, the charges for everything are not nice, I sure am glad to get to my Marriott Hotel where I know what I am going to have a good room waiting on me. That they do appreciate our business!!
A thought provoking reply (butchf's) from four years ago. The Original Poster, known for his insightful spurring of engaging thought, is still with us (as shown by his recent liking of roderickt's reply below) but his light is growing fainter.
I fling out my arms. There are no Insiders here, and it's night time; but I address all who might be thinking of Insiderland, and who are therefore nearer to me than you think: grillers and airplane geeks in your nightclothes and upgraded rooms on high floors.
Do you believe?
If you believe, don't let anadyr fade.
Many clapped. (including former Disney characters )
Some didn't. (couldn't hear in the Hilton suite )
A few (near Omaha ) hissed.
We shall see, what we shall see. Keep on keepin' on Insiders (and now, for my morning coffee)
Not only will I fire up the grill but I'll get his Gulfstream a direct route to his favorite hotel!!
I also think erc needs more sleep before sipping his first cup of the day, yet applaud loud for the efforts to keep anadyr engaged and out of his novels for a few minutes each day in order to provide us all with insights only he has the ability to provide. The others will get wind of the swell away from continual hotel review that dare to take up valuable space on the home page of MI and we will keep the pressure on.
Good stuff nu. Well, certainly a bit of literary license involved. I didn't think you would literally hiss, but I did picture you at your kitchen table with a cup of joe, wearing your Bob Devaney autographed Cornhusker sweatshirt, seeing the post and saying to yourself, "Great, what's that chowderhead yapping about now?"
Now, if Anadyr understands I wasn't calling him Tinkerbell, we can get the ol' gang back. Good luck with the Boilermakers.
Dear ERC, please worry not, here's why:
Given the partial government shutdown and other factors I have not been able to access my various National Monument's free wi-fi and have thus faded from almost all posting and everyone's memory.
But fear not--sequestration was also hard on me, and I have survived. Now once I remove my bracelet (from my ankle) I can can once again be a contributing member, but alas I have nothing to say that is either original or thought provoking!
To quote the legendary Charles H. Duell, who was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899, "everything that can be invented has been invented." or in this case every thought I have ever had has been posted on Insiders. On a more positive note, I am now a faux mufti-millionaire in an online pretend to win money casino, I have surpassed most of my friends on all the ubiquitous Facebook Saga games, and been recognized by total strangers on Linkedin. I have even repainted my garage a nice shade of off white, and am having my driveway detailed (again).
So life is good, Insiders chugs along, and I am sitting here, just running at a low rpm, on my way to another day of accomplishments, small as they are.
Now you're talkin' turkey Tom. Having hired some of your former colleagues at one of those local three initial firms, I was immediately alerted to your reply - great to have you back, hopefully your Bitcoin account is rising rapidly. We will need your Linkedin sources to communicate with the big kahuna himself, Arne S., so once again your contacts prove valuable to the cause. And of course, who are we to even consider arguing with Charles H. Duell ? Keep on keepin' on, we're back in the game!
I am currently at level 94 on Candy Crush Saga but may from time to time head back to Insiders. It seems that the folks at Fort Meade, while monitoring my internet use, inadvertently opened the "cheats" for most of those online games, so in the spirit or full disclosure, which the IRS taught me, I have begun to win with absolutely no effort.
So, Charles Duell and I are safe for the moment.
The ankle bracelet I had removed last year, yet still run at low RPM so glad to hear we are on the same page and revolution setting!
It is interesting that you have brought this thread back to life. I have noticed an increase in fees at hotels and resorts recently as they try to gouge us as occupancy rates improve. My biggest pet peeves are resort fees and parking. The resort fees usually cover the internet (which is complimentary to Platinum any way), and use of the pool and other facilities on the property. If we are already paying a premium to stay at most resorts/hotels, why should we pay more to use a pool or fitness center? Many suburban locations and non FS properties also now charge for parking. Between the two, the cost per day at some properties adds up to $100 in additional fees. Also, don't forget the high state and local taxes that are levied on hotels (and rental cars), since these govt. officials realize they can be more succesful in raising taxes on those who don't get to vote.
I'm glad that I have timeshares so I can avoid the properties that rob us, but I've also noticed that my annual maintenance fees have been increasing more than in previous years.
Family vacations at nice hotels and resorts may become a thing of the past because they will not be affordable for many families. Discretionary income among Millenials is lower than our generation, and expenses are significantly higher. The travel industry will likely feel the pain at some point, especially if businesses start cutting back on travel. My company imposed a restriction on FS hotels this year as it tries to manage travel costs, and I'm confident others are doing the same thing.
Great to hear from you with your usual insightful thoughts and observations again chief (too bad you left KC, look at Andy's guys now).
Back to superchief's (and the OP's) fee issue
Yes, we're seeing more and more price increases on whatever items hotels feel can lead to a net gain (meaning not costing occupancy) in revenue. With your marketing background, you more than most fully appreciate the 'demand oriented pricing' cycle we consumers are now battling. Marriott is currently operating (and they adapt when market forces require, but we apparently are far away from that point) with a mindset of not caring about the names of the customers, just the rates and numbers, and as we have all written, we are easily backfilled. Some of the newer Residence Inns even have different prices among their studios, similar to the regular vs. cozy we've come to know in NYC. I have noticed all types of pricing variations in an attempt to squeeze out maximum revenue (not necessarily an intrinsic evil, but as it approaches a 'nickel and dime' approach on an already aggressively priced room, it does risk customer alienation if not immediate, than longer term), including a most recent high floor $10 higher rate (not to be confused with skyline) - which I am confident, if more lodgers wanted lower floors, there would be a $10 premium for that.
Kathleen Parker writes a good op-ed in today's W. Post comparing Sonny Corleone willing to die for a principle vs. Michael who understands what needs to be done. As a deal guy, I know going in I'm most likely not getting 100% of my terms (and actually in the rare cases that we do, we're careful to consider longer term relationships) and so we have trained ourselves that when we are in the lower percentages of terms, and we are still willing to close the deal, we always try to walk away with additional benefits (even if less than our ideal). This is how I view my current Marriott relationship (and granted, it's far easier as a leisure traveler than a 50 week a year road warrior), I attempt to make the most out of a less than ideal situation, often spurred on by a shared idea from Insiders (pricing break, restaurant tip, point saver, nearby Marriott property w/better terms, CL treatment, outstanding service recommendation -whatever), which is why the Insider forum is so valuable to me, I'm able to amortize (perhaps only emotionally) the current demand oriented pricing tactics of an operator who is definitely feeling their economic oats.
Heaven help us if demand grows so strong that the cancellable room is wiped out like the airlines. I have seen an attempt at reservation creep - one day notice, three day notice, and in some cases the only reasonable pricing, for my economics, is advance pay - oh my.
I'm here and I'm giving that Dangerfield okie dokie right back at ya.......but I can't help but think that picture might be a mirror image of you after that 5:30 AM cup o' joe! The eyes gave it away.......
I've been a 'sometimes' participant lately in the midst of a 'travel quiet time' but I was printing out my reservation for our Palm Desert time next week and thought I'd stop by! As things pick up again with travel next week (off to CA, the Caribbean and Aruba again) I'll be looking in to get some tips and maybe chime in a 'note' or two. Maybe an F sharp or a G flat.........and for those who don't know the music scale...they are the same note....... I'm in a 'flat' mood when I have to settle for a bad rate and a 'sharp' mood when I get a good deal!
My main man, great to hear from you. As they say in the field that you were talented enough as a kid to work enough gigs to buy a house, "You've got the chops". Best wishes for terrific travel and yes indeed, do lay down some tracks of insights for us .
Sadly, Rodney's cuter than the ercman, but my kids like me as long as I remain the family ATM.
The air travel industry in the United States is rapidly becoming known for collecting baggage and other fees. Given the current rate of collection, Delta Airlines will be the first air service to collect $1 billion in luggage fees by 2014. There is a reason behind it though, as airlines are struggling to flourish and have been for some time. Article resource: Delta Airlines.
the airlines have figured that a majority of flyers shop for base price so they try to keep that as low as possible and then pile on with the adders. I am ( for the last year) platinum on Us air. I was flying from Manchester to Phx and the flight out of Manchester was late so I was likely to miss the connecter out of Philly. they bumped me to later flight and when I called to get a seat they offered me either a middle or I had to pay 79 to get an aisle even though it was their fault. I have nearly 2m miles but in the end they didn't care. So like platinum benefits being diminished at Marriott the airlines like hotels have figure that loyalty is not as important as it was as a few years ago so it causes more people to also shop for their choices
They pay a price for their baggage fees however, as more and more passengers try to cram their bulging rollaboards into the overheads, thus slowing down the boarding - and deboarding - process, increasing gate times and decreasing on time averages. Airlines are motivated by on-time averages. Time is money, as they say.
They fix the increased boarding times by starting to board 35-45 minutes before the door closing time, which then creates a much faster turn time than they can possibly make.....turn a B739ER in 20 minutes, not a chance. Heck they are still deplaning 20 minutes after they open the door.
I see new hotel fees such as paying extra for a second room key, having all elevators requiring a key to access any floor and if you take the elevator more than twice in a day it adds a fee to your bill and charging you to use the workout gym for starters. Guess pay toilets are not far off!
I've mentioned before that a Ramada we stayed at several years ago charged $2 just for having a phone in the room. Funny because that $2 has cost them SO much in lost revenue, which NO hotel is aware that it's losing when it does make these charges. (Listen up, Marriott.)
Marriott RI and TPS charge elites for local phone calls even when they stay there for years. (I know y'all are getting tired of reading that complaint from me, but I don't see why more people aren't mentioning that as well as the coffee loss and the Bistro concept for CY, especially when you get reduced points at those places and then they offer less anyway.)
We used to go to resorts that charged for wi-fi if you wanted it. They said there weren't enough people wanting internet at World of Golf and other places of that sort to warrant it. They all have free internet access now. There's a reason they thought they needed to spring for that expense in just a couple of years since we were told that.
IHG- Orange Lake charges for housekeeping after the number stays for the number of timeshares you have. This year, they changed that to no housekeeping fees if you get Max - Time reduced point stays, but you still have the fees if it's a regular point stay.