As airlines continue to experience declining passenger revenue and increased costs, they are looking for ways to adapt to the changing economic environment. Reducing the number of flights has only a short-term impact on the bottom line, so airlines are emphasizing the search for alternative revenue sources.
Last month we discussed how the hotel industry has followed a similar model of a la carte pricing. Unlike the additional fees in the hotel industry, which can be negotiated, your options for the additional airline fees are to pay them or do without. If you are informed about the different type of fees that an airline charges, you can better manage your resources and reduce the possibility of surprise and frustration.
The following are some of the items for which most airlines will impose a fee. Some of these fees may be waived for those passengers who have reached a certain status with its frequent flyer program:
- Exit row or forward cabin seating (Northwest charges up to $35 per flight for what they call "coach choice".
- Itinerary change fees (range from $50-$150 per flight leg) once the ticket has been issued. And what business traveler doesn't routinely change their plans?
- Checked baggage (fees vary based on number of bags, weight, and height restrictions.)
- In-flight. Hungry? Pay up. Some airlines now are starting to charge for meals, beverages, headsets and other in-flight amenities in coach cabins.
These changes have a direct impact on everyone’s travel budget. For the traveler, any of these will impact your out of pocket costs. Travel managers will need to take these items into consideration for planning and reporting purposes. Companies need to consider which of these costs they are prepared to treat as reimbursable to their employees.