A USA Today article titled Airlines see Revenue Increase from fees talks about how customers react badly to the additional fees being charged now, especially when the service used to be free. The traveling public feel they are being gouged.
The rationale for these fees is that airlines have been forced to reduce travel costs and are using fees to bring their companies back to profitability.
The explanation to consumers is that the customer pays for the services they want (and doesn’t pay for the services they don’t want). Examples are baggage fees, fees to change reservations or cancel reservations, excess weight, and fees for food on the plane. There was even some talk about charging fees to use the washroom!
In the article, they talk about a person whose cost to transport their pet (another service) was more expensive than their own seat.
Consumers have choices and can pick other airlines to fly but only if they can compare how much they are being charged in total. As a result, the US Transportation Department imposed a rule recently requiring airlines to disclose all fees for optional services (baggage fees, meals, cost of canceling or changing reservations) with a prominent link on their websites. Still it is confusing for consumers.
Here’s a video titled Airline Fees on the Rise which shows customer reactions to the these new or increased charges.
If all the airlines provide fees in this way, then the traveling public has to decide which set of fees to deal with. Here’s an article titled Airline fees reach $450 mark, USA TODAY survey finds that covers some of the specifics by airline.
The psychology of these fees is what irks consumers so much. I remember a time when you had to order you car and you had to pick every single item you wanted eg whether or not you wanted a sun visor or a side view mirror. Along came the foreign cars with all inclusive bundles with extra option packages. Now all cars come with minimum bundles and add on packages. I wonder if the airline industry is at the stage where they price everything individually, only to bring back a bundle with a few options consumers can pick from at some point in the future. I have to believe that tracking each of these customized choices has to be expensive for the airlines as well.
What is your opinion? Has the airline industry gone too far? Will the pendulum swing back to more packaged prices so consumers can compare airline alternatives?
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