I am oh-so-tired of hearing people whine about airline fees – the $6 to watch the movie; the $20 to check the bag; the $6 for the pillow. Boo hoo.
You want to complain about airline fees? Here’s a set of fees you should complain about:
Using the really, really fantastic On the Fly app from ITA Software, I recently did a search for a New York to London flight. The roundtrip fare on Continental Airlines (though several others were similar) was $582.40. But that’s not really true: the total price of the ticket was $582.40, but the fare was $72.50 each way.
Yes, the price of a New York to London ticket is $72.50, or $145 round trip. The fees on that ticket are $437.40. What fees? $252 in fuel surcharges. $128.30 for the UK government. $32.60 to the US government for arrival and departure taxes. Immigration fees, customs fees, September 11th security fees, and on and on.
These fees aren’t new – certainly airlines have been using fuel surcharges for years. And governments always want their cut. But these are mandatory fees, yet no one complains about them. Why do travelers have such an issue when an airline is providing a service (food, TV, checking your bags) in exchange for a nominal charge when that same airline is charging you more for the fuel ($252) than for the price of the ticket ($145)? Isn’t that more disgusting than Spirit charging $3 for a soda? Ryanair has figured it out by often charging nothing for the fare and making it up in additional fees (Spirit similarly). Yet they are derided for it.
Let’s just get it straight: while Spirit is nickel and diming you, the legacy airlines are hundred-dollaring you.
(The most egregious I’ve seen is JFK – Baku (Azerbaijian) in late January. Round trip fare: $220. Total round trip price: $723).