I only travel by air a few times a year. I haven’t yet faced the daunting task of traveling in light of all the additional fees and “perk-stripping”. So, as I logged onto the computer a weekend or so ago to compare airfares, I wondered – what am I really comparing? Is there any way to do this in a logical way or is it a futile attempt at comparing apples, oranges, and green beans? How does one manage the travel budget whether for business or personal if you have no clue what to expect or where a fee may be thrust upon you at a most unlikely time?
It is getting more and more difficult to know what you will actually be paying for your flight. Just like many ticketing sites display fares without the taxes and fees, many of the new airline fees are popping up after you get to the airport or even on the airplane. I bet a lot of people were surprised to find out they had to pay for a pillow and blanket. I know we were when we recently flew a US Airways red eye from Denver.
Oh goodie – a chance to pay money for a skeevy pillow. Just what I always wanted! A bargain at any price!
So how is the intrepid traveler supposed to wade through all this when it seems to change at least daily? And, because so much of it is absurd (are they REALLY going to charge to use the miniature and gross restrooms?) it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately some folks are trying to make sense of it all for the rest of us.
Turns out someone else saved me the trouble! Travel search engine Kayak (of which I am very much a fan) has a chart that shows not only bag fees but also charges for food, pets, unaccompanied minors, seat assignment, and legroom. The chart appears to be regularly updated; as of this writing, none of the entries are more than a week old.
Southwest Airlines has truly set itself apart once again, this time in the fee department. A recent visit to their website shows they share my disgust about surprise fees:
No surprise fees
We despise fees as much as the other airlines seem to love them. So we’ll just keep taking care of you, rather than charging fees for the stuff that should come with your fare in the first place. We believe in not asking you to pull out your wallet every few minutes.
It’s not just a smart attitude, it is smart business. They have been able to set themselves apart in this way by locking in fuel prices. Imagine that – an airline with some business sense!
Things could get worst though. Grumpy Editor shares this little ditty about a editorial cartoon he recently saw:
Grumpy Editor, grumbling about “nickel and dime” airlines — constantly flying at lower PR altitudes as they institute new fees almost weekly — got a hearty laugh on seeing an editorial cartoon by Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated cartoonist sketched a flight attendant demonstrating a life-saving device while informing passengers in a packed aircraft: “In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head. For $15.00 you can activate it!”
I laugh hard only because there is a good deal of truth to it! You want oxygen? Want to live long enough to land at your destination? Cough up the money, baby…
What have been your travel and added-fee survival tips? I’d love to hear your creative tips, unexpected surprises, and experiences in the comments.
Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses in a way that fits who they are rather than how they were told they "should". Get the free 12 part eCourse "How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin" http://www.coaching4lesbians.com and start taking charge of your own success.