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24/04/2008 - Five Hidden Airline Fees That Really Annoy Me
The nickel and diming of passengers grows worse each and every day. Airlines scramble to make more money and deal with the rising costs of fuel, and along the way some of their hidden fees have just become absurd. From checked baggage to choosing seats, to simply buying a ticket, the fees can all add up. When one airline adds a fee you can rest assured a few more airlines will soon follow close behind.
While there are dozens of fees that have shown up in the past few years, here are the top five that really annoy me and that exemplify the nickel and diming of passengers.
#5 - Fee To Use Frequent Flyer Miles At The "Last Minute."
I just cashed in some miles on Delta for a quick trip that I booked then than three weeks from the date of travel I was hit with a significant fee for using my miles for travel less than three weeks from the date of travel. Often more seats are available closer to the date of travel due to airlines trying to fill the seats, but now there is an administrative convenience fee. The airline is taking my miles, I am paying the taxes, I am paying the ticket fee, now I am punished for booking less than three weeks from the date of travel? I was also hit with an additional fee for using my miles on a Delta partner airline, other than Delta (although this airline is merging with Delta.....can I get my money back?)
#4 - Fee To Re-Deposit Miles Into Your Frequent Flyer Account
In the last week I had to reschedule a trip booked on miles. The obvious solution is to re-deposit the miles with the airline rather than lose the miles. The fee to put my miles back into my account? $100 in administrative costs. The airline now has my original booking fee of $75 and my $100 re-deposit fee, for a total of $175 for a flight I have not taken.
#3 - Fee To Choose Seats On Your Flight
Airlines allow their "elite" frequent flyers to choose select seats, and these flyers got preferential seat choices. After the "frequent flyers, " airlines generally used to have simple policy, first come first served for seating assignments. This policy was simple and it made sense. A while back Northwest Airlines (soon to be merged with Delta Airlines) started to charge for seat selection, this policy has been followed by other carriers. You'd expect to find this kind of policy with a "low cost carrier" (LCC), but Northwest Airlines is a "legacy" airline. Additionally this policy is also in place with Air Canada on certain fares and other "legacy" airlines.
#2 - Fee To Fly Same Day Standby
In the "old days" if you showed up at the airport early you could request a "stand-by" seat on an earlier flight , based on seat availability. This was easy, it costs the airline nothing, especially if you have no checked baggage and it made life easy. many airlines now charge heavy fees to fly stand-by on seats that will otherwise go out empty. Many U.S. airlines charge $25 to fly stand-by, while United and Delta currently charge $50. The biggest hit for flying stand-by comes from "low cost carrier" Southwest Airlines. Southwest will simply charge you the full fare difference between what you paid for your ticket and what the current walk-up fare ticket cost is of the flight you are seeking to get on. In early February I was flying from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Providence (PVD) and got to the airport 90 minutes early. I figured "why not go home early?" Well I had paid $119 for my flight from BWI to PVD, and the walk up fare for the flight 60 minutes earlier was $383, so Southwest wanted $264 for a seat on a flight that was going out 1/2 empty! My flight? Oversold and the airline was seeking volunteers to be bumped in exchange for an overnight hotel stay and bump-vouchers. The airline would have saved money by sending me home an hour early in an empty seat.
#1 - Fee To Talk To A Human When Booking A Ticket!
U.S. Airways takes the top slot for the nickel and diming of passengers by charging $10 to book your ticket over the over phone and $20 to book your ticket at the airport! That's right, you walk up to the counter at your local airport and you'll get slapped with a $20 "in person" booking fee. The folks at the airport need to be there, they must staff the desk during flight times, and if you want to pay for your ticket in person you must pay $20 for the privilege of speaking with a human. Other airlines charge service fees to book on the on the phone, generally around $10, but I know of no other airline besides U.S. Airways that charges you to pay in person at a desk!
Happy Flying (there's no fee to be happy yet)!