Garnering the lion’s share of attention during any mention of airline fees, baggage fees (notwithstanding Spirit’s hideous overhead bin baggage charges) have remained somewhat stable in 2010. In fact, TruPrice research shows that 2009 was a much busier year for sizable jumps in baggage fees. Does this mean that airlines have reached the outer limits of what customers are willing to pay for checked baggage? Perhaps. Does this mean that airlines have grown passive about ancillary fees? Not a chance.
Rather, airlines have supplemented their huge hauls of ancillary fee profit by adding to many existing fees that don’t have quite the panache of baggage fees. Examples? Just take a look at American’s recent increase from $50 to $60 for bags weighing between 51 and 70 lbs. Or Continental raising its fee to make a reservation over the phone from $20 to $25. Or for that matter Continental dropping its free in-flight snacks and meals and adding a menu with items ranging from $1.50 to $7.00. To wit, not all news on the fees’ front is bad. For just this past June, Frontier announced the elimination of the $25 ticketing service fee for travel purchased through its reservations call center and airport ticket counters.
Re-stating our long-held opinion that airlines are for-profit entities and TruPrice encourages the open market business model, we nevertheless do believe that consumers and business travelers alike need the proper tools to ensure that they know the true cost of their travel choices. We at TruPrice believe that in this day of constant (and typically upward) movement in the less visible areas of ancillary fees, we ask now more than ever: Have you TruPriced your travel? If you haven’t, don’t be surprised if the final bill from your trip is up to, or perhaps more than, double what you originally thought.