Are more add-on fees coming?
It is a fact that airlines made most of their profit in 2010 from all the added fees.... and they are probably not done. Following are some new fees that you might see, especially as fuel prices climb and airlines look for ways to pass those expenses on to you:
- Infant fees. The U.S. is considering banning children from riding in their parent's lap. For safety reasons, they may require parents buy seats and place little ones in child-restraint systems.
- In-person check-in. Airlines save money if you use a kiosk to check-in and get your boarding pass, or if you have done it online, at home. What if they start charging a fee to check in with a live agent? To avoid the fee, in addition to using the kiosk or online check-in, you would have to weigh and measure your bags at home, calculate and pay your bag fees before leaving for the airport; then, drop your bags off with bag check staff at the conveyor belt.
- Using a credit card. Airlines abroad already charge a small fee for ticket purchases unless paid in cash. Could U.S. airlines follow suit?
- Checked-bag fees by the pound. If your bags are over the weight limit, they could end up costing you more than your fare. Many non U.S. airlines charge a flat fee for bags that weigh up to a certain limit, and then charge by the kilogram or pound for anything over and above.
- Name change fees. If the price is right this may be a good fee. When you buy a nonrefundable ticket and cannot use it, rather than throwing it out you may be able to pay a fee to assign it to another person.
- No refund if a fare is reduced. Currently, Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest issue a full credit if the fare goes down between the time you book your flight and the time you fly. Others charge a change fee, typically $150 on a domestic flight. This fee may go even higher, or be changed to no refund at all.
- Carry-on bag fees. Last year Spirit began charging for carry-ons that don't fit under the seat in front of you. Will other airlines do the same?
- Fare lock-in fees. In late 2010, Continental offered a lock on a fare for three or seven days. You pay a fee which varies depending on the route.
- Internet "convenience fee". Ryanair charges 5 euros per passenger, each way, to "cover costs associated" with its online booking system. Allegiant Airlines also charges an online booking fee of $14.99. Will we see more of this? It seems they are "cutting off their nose to spite their face" with this one. They want to lower their cost and encourage online booking. Doesn't this do the opposite?