Baggage charges, other fees here to stay

September 25, 2013

The fees make travelers batty. That’s $25 for your suitcase. Another $10 for a snack. A seat upgrade? That’ll cost you too.

Airlines travelers have long chafed at paying for services that were once included as part of their plane ticket.

But airline executives appearing at a panel discussion at the National Press Club on Tuesday, said those extra charges are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

At an all-day symposium sponsored by Airlines for America (A4A), the trade group for the nation’s large airlines, executives from United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines talked about the customer experience and changes in the industry. They talked about upgrading the flying experience, being more responsive to customer feedback. But they couldn’t escape the fee question.

First off, Scott Wilson, vice president of merchandising and eCommerce for United and Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines don’t like the term “fees.”

Those extra dollars you pay “Aren’t fees, but products and services that have a value,” Wilson said.

Ingram argued that the additional costs travels pay for more leg room, snacks and priority boarding actually are consumer friendly. When those types of amenities were included in the price of a ticket, everyone paid regardless of how many bags they brought or whether they actually got more space to stretch out. So in essence travelers who had no bags or needed no additional leg room were subsidizing those who did. Under the new system, both men argued, people pay for the services they want — and nothing more.

“I’d argue that it’s pro-consumer because you pay for what you want,” Ingram said.

Still, both men said they realize that the public likely will still beef about being nickel-and- dimed. It could be a generational thing others in the room joked: Some day travelers won’t remember a time when such fees weren’t a regular part of doing business at the airport.

Don’t miss: My colleague Ashley Halsey III has this great post from the symposium on the best time to buy a plane ticket.

 

 

 

 

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Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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Lori Aratani | September 25, 2013