Tuesday Sep. 22, 2009 @ 2:42 pm By

As they said in a recent MSNBC article, “How many previously free services can they force flyers to pay for without risking a revolt?” – I think that sums it up and is exactly what the airlines are angling to do. They are going to push as close to the tipping point as they can, right up to the edge of consumer revolt.

Even today, airlines search for new fees despite the fact that they continue to see heavy financial losses and problems attracting flyers. The story states that, “.. passenger revenue for U.S. airlines fell 21 percent in August as compared to a year earlier as passenger traffic fell 6 percent.” However, revenue from “extra fees” rose across the board for airlines.

The story reports something I find interesting, they said, “Virgin America launched in 2007 with a model of charging customers for most services, on the theory that customers who don’t want those things shouldn’t have to pay for them via higher ticket prices.” BUT, the problem with that claim is that prices for tickets are not dropping. This implies that ticket prices drop as they remove costs associated with perks people are now willing to pay for and pass them onto those who want to purchase these items. But, that is simply is not the case. So, I object to airlines who make statements as though these fees are helping reduce ticket prices. Ticket prices are the same if not rising – which they explain as their method to offset gas prices.

All this being said, the story quotes one consumer as saying, “I don’t know if it’s one of those (things where) we’ve all been beaten down so much with fees that we’ve lost our fight,” Petersen said. “It’s looking like there’s a new sense of understanding.” Maybe so, but travelers are also seeking out ways to avoid fees where possible: not checking bags, bringing our own entertainment (iPod, DVD player, computer, book), bringing our own food. Heck, I recently packed an entire pizza I cooked the night before onto a flight with me to Colorado for the Pikes Peak Ascent race.

Here is a good interactive comparison of costs for airline services on MSNBC.com

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