A local television station in the Atlanta area interviewed Richard Anderson, the chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, about the eventual proliferation of aircraft by Southwest Airlines at the international airport in Atlanta, airfares, unions — and fees:
“Are you contemplating any changes in your policies especially when it comes to fees and change fees and whatever, in order to meet this competition head on?” Bill Liss of WXIA-TV asked.
“All you need to do is sign up for an American Express SkyMiles card, and all your bags are free,” Anderson said.
“What happens if I don’t sign up?” Liss asked.
“Well just sign up, and so we don’t have to talk about it,” Anderson said.
“So you don’t necessarily see any changes in your bag fee or changes in change fees or anything, simply because Southwest is coming in?” Liss asked.
“We make those decisions unilaterally, so normally I would not speak about fares or pricing issues in the future,” Anderson said.
That means, at least for now, no American Express SkyMiles Card — pay the baggage fee. Change your flight and expect a fee.
Delta Air Lines announced today that a new international Economy Comfort section for long-haul flights will be introduced this summer, with features that include complimentary alcoholic beverages throughout the flight, additional leg room, slightly more seat recline, a specially designed seat cover, additional complimentary in-flight entertainment options, and in-seat power for electronic devices.
A fee of between US$80.00 and US$160.00 will be assessed for those passengers who want seats in this new economy class section, but will be complimentary for Diamond Medallion and Platinum Medallion Delta Air Lines SkyMiles members and up to eight of their companions. Gold Medallion SkyMiles members will be eligible for a 50% discount on the fee for these seats, while Silver Medallion SkyMiles members will be eligible for a 25% discount.
Paying the fee for this new product offered by Delta Air Lines can offset and supersede other existing fees, such as fees for alcoholic beverages and certain options for in-flight entertainment, both of which can help make a long-haul international flight more tolerable.
Depending on the weight one places on the comfort and amenities offered with Economy Comfort, the fee may actually be worth it. If, however, one brings one’s own portable media player, does not imbibe in alcoholic beverages, does not need the upgraded features of the seats that are designed to offer slightly extra comfort, skip this option as the value of these benefits would not justify the fees.
Poor Carol Margolis did not expect the onslaught of fees she would experience on a 22-day trip to Dublin from Glasgow that initially cost approximately US$22.oo for the one-hour Aer Lingus flight.
Once the fees she had to pay due to such items as extra baggage and overweight baggage were added, she wound up paying the true price of £69.28 instead of the original £14.99 airfare.
Read all about her fee woes and travails here in her weblog…
Due to such factors as increasing prices for crude oil, ancillary fees such as peak travel, round-trip and fuel surcharges are expected to either appear or increase in 2011 and could result in the most profitable year for airlines in greater than a decade, according to a news story by WSOC-TV in Charlotte.
Some economists are concerned that rising oil prices, which is expected to cause increases in other goods and services throughout the economy, could slow down and hamper current economic recovery efforts. The travel industry is especially vulnerable to volatile crude oil prices, which are only expected to increase further in the foreseeable future.
The following commercials regarding “fee-court matter” by Southwest Airlines are entertaining as they imply how airlines charging their passengers ancillary fees can be downright — well — criminal:
The following is from the Continental Airlines Internet web site regarding FareLock:
“FareLock allows you to hold your itinerary and fare for 72 hours or seven days, for a fee, and is available for Continental-operated flights only. So go ahead and book your flight while you complete and confirm your travel plans. Your FareLock will guarantee an available seat and the fare you were quoted at the time you booked your reservations.
“Choose FareLock when booking reservations at continental.com or with Continental Reservations and opt for a 72-hour or a seven-day hold. Then, return to complete your transaction at any time before the FareLock expires, or choose the auto-ticketing feature which tickets at the end of the FareLock period. FareLock fees, beginning at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, will vary based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure and the length of the hold.”
This may actually be a beneficial fee, if booked properly. For example, if one finds a low airfare but is still not sure about booking it definitively, one can use FareLock to reserve that airfare for as low as $5.00 for a 72-hour hold. If the fare is not booked after all, the FareLock fee is lost. Compared to a $150.00 cancellation fee, this new fee can be a bargain.
It can also be a gamble: let us say that FareLock guarantees an airfare, but the airfare drops in price afterwards. One can book another reservation with or without using FareLock, but then must forfeit the FareLock fee on the original reservation. However, if the airfare decreases enough, one can still save money on the true price of the airfare while Continental Airlines profits on the FareLock fee it would otherwise not have obtained.
The bottom line is that although additional airline fees are usually not welcomed, FareLock could be advantageous to passengers if used wisely by saving passengers money and allowing more flexibility when booking a reservation.