The Atlantic has a list of the worst airline fees. I agree with the commenters, that some of them aren’t bad. In fact, some of them improved. Others, though are quite aggravating.

1. Pet aboard fee – In some cases, it costs more to fly the dog than it is to fly me. That strikes me as a bit excessive. On the other hand, It’s something that they’re very up front about and that you can make arrangements accordingly. Charging a fee for pets is definitely fair. And not something new.

2. Unaccompanied Minor – I am sympathetic to this one. You have liability concerns, for one thing. And kids require more attention and are more likely to make flights unpleasant for others (dealing with complaints costs money). Is $100 fair? Not sure. Like the dogs, though, you know well ahead of time.

3. Carry on Baggage Fee –
I’ve commented on this one before. The long and short of it… I have no problem with it. It’s easier to plan around and the financial incentives should be towards checking, and not carrying on, baggage.

4. Pillow/blanket – Rubbish. I have never even taken advantage of this “service”, but still: rubbish.

5. WiFi fee – How quickly the world owes us something.

6. Non-alcoholic beverages – At least, unlike sporting events and the like, you can bring your own. I think that water of some sort should be guaranteed, but not necessarily soft drinks.

7. Headset fees – This is actually an improvement. Does anyone else remember when you used to have to put down a deposit on a rental that was more than the $3 that Continental is charging? I don’t even blame them for that. As with the WiFi, they need to be able to pay for these things and passing it on to the customers seems fair. I do find the “gotcha” aspect to be irritating (you’re paying $3 because you forgot to bring them from last time and not because you want a second pair). But it’s cheap enough not to be a problem. Especially considering that the pricing is probably in line with what it costs them.

8. Meal/snack fee
– If you want to pay for the food they’re selling, you deserve what you get.

9. Preferred seat fee – I do find this one somewhat aggravating, and petty. A sort of “we’re going to intentionally make things difficult for you if you don’t pay up” screw-you sort of thing. Paying extra for exit-row seats is completely fair, though.

10. Ticket Hold fee – I’m not sure about this one. I don’t think “buy your ticket or take your chances” is unfair, though it seems to me that if you’re doing so far enough in advance, it should be a courtesy.

11. Phone booking fee – $25? WTF?

12. Priority seating – Perfectly voluntary pricing discrimination at its best. No problems here.

Here’s what I don’t get, though. How can you list some of these penny-ante things without getting into what I believe is the worst:

13. Cancellation fees – If I cancel at the last minute, I should have to pay them something. If I cancel six weeks ahead of time, though, that’s pretty ridiculous. They have plenty of time to sell the ticket again. Whereas a lot of the others mentioned are completely voluntary, this is a case of turning the screws on someone who simply doesn’t have much choice. Even when no harm is done. It’s the sort of back-end pricing that annoys me. I might be more accommodating if the fees were remotely reasonable, but they aren’t. Change of plans? Screw you! Because we can!

Update: Apparently, US Airways charges an extra fee if you want to sit on the front half of the plane. No extra-legroom, or anything. You just sit near the front. We don’t get it. Last on and first off isn’t work $25, in my book. Not when for $40 you can get decent legroom.


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6 Responses to Airline Fees

  1. Peter says:

    Management at Ryanair recently gave serious consideration to installing pay toilets on their aircraft. Thankfully, they came to their senses.

  2. trumwill says:

    We Americans take our restrooms pretty seriously. No way that would… err… fly, here.

  3. David Alexander says:

    No way that would… err… fly, here.

    In contrast, in Germany, you get used to paying 50 euro cents or so to use a bathroom, even in places where it would be free in the United States like a train station or a bookstore. OTOH, their bathrooms are clean and don’t have the stale scent of urine…

  4. trumwill says:

    OTOH, their bathrooms are clean and don’t have the stale scent of urine…

    Yeah, I should have said we take our right to a restroom seriously. The restrooms themselves are often atrocious.

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    WiFi fee – How quickly the world owes us something.

    For those who don’t watch Louie on FX, you should. (Thursday, 10:30 Eastern/Pacific)

    The great irony of his bit on LN w/Conan was that the unreasonable man that he is criticising is himself. Then, later on he comes up with the funny, reasonable repsonse.

  6. trumwill says:

    I’ve heard that he’s criticising himself. I’d be interested in the response.

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