After American Airlines refused to match, Northwest Airlines has dropped the $7.50 service fee for purchasing from a travel agent. However, the $5 fee for buying over the phone will stick and will now apply to international as well as domestic flights.
I saw Peter Greenberg on the Today Show talking about this whole fee issue and, while I think he usually does a great job, he sorta blew this whole $5 fee completely out of proportion. First of all, it’s $5, not $250. Secondly, JetBlue, who can do no wrong, already charges you an extra fee to speak with a telephone agent (they just call it an online booking discount). Major carriers are forced to match the discounted fare yet offer telephone service (which is expensive) for free. That is nonsense. They absolutely should match the fees imposed by lowfare carriers. Moreover, we are currently enjoying the lowest airline fares in history (when did it ever cost $200 or so to fly coast-to-coast all the time). Those low fares come at a small cost. In this case, one of those costs is $5 to speak to someone to book it. The next time you’re buying a $99 ROUND TRIP fare from New York to Florida and are cursing the airline for charging you $5, remember that your cab to the airport will cost more than your flight to Miami.