One of the greatest technological achievements of the modern era is, unquestionably, the turbine engine. The invention ushered in the jet age, which bestowed upon mankind the luxury of safe and rapid transcontinental and intercontinental travel at reasonable prices.
Unfortunately, those reasonable prices are being chipped away by a growing number of annoying fees that many airlines impose on their passengers including:
- transporting your luggage
- securing a couple of extra inches of leg room
- choosing an aisle or window seat
- changing your reservation
- printing boarding passes
- getting a better position in the boarding queue
- redeeming frequent flier miles
Yes, many of these fees are for services that were once considered complimentary — and the reason is obvious. For example, according to CNBC, baggage fees are so lucrative that they now account for 25% of the airlines’ ancillary revenue.
At one point, the airlines’ quest to nickel-and-dime its customers got so out of hand that Irish discount carrier Ryanair actually considered charging passengers approximately $1.50 to use their planes’ toilets. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed and the idea was eventually dumped — er, if you’ll pardon the expression.
Turning the Tables
Wouldn’t it be great if two could play this game?
What if us frustrated air travelers could assemble our own list of absurd fees that we could charge the airlines?
Well, if I were king for a day, here are a few of my own fees that I’d slap on the airlines. And, by all means, feel free to pile on and add your own charges to the list.
Small Seat Fee. It’s not your imagination. As the Wall Street Journal points out, even though the typical waistline is getting larger, airlines are transitioning to smaller seats so their planes can hold more passengers. Sadly, I don’t think there is an airline in business today that could avoid this fee.
Excessive Boarding Groups Fee. Remember when the airlines boarded their First Class passengers, followed by everyone else via row numbers? It was simple, quick and efficient. Nowadays, airlines have so many special status labels with their own place in the boarding pecking order that it’s comical. American Airlines offers approximately a dozen preferred categories that permit “elite” customers to board ahead of the unwashed masses (a.k.a. Groups 1 through 4) including: First Class, Business Class, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Silver, oneworld Ruby, oneworld Emerald/Sapphire, Dividend Miles Platinum, Dividend Miles Gold, Dividend Miles Silver, AAirpass, and Priority. The trouble is, when everyone is elite, nobody is.
Kicked Seat Fee. I know. Flying with young kids is a huge challenge for almost any parent. But that doesn’t mean anybody should have to put up with having their seat being continually kicked from behind by an unruly whippersnapper — especially on a long flight. If the airline insists on sitting me in one of those cursed seats, I want to be compensated for the ensuing frustration.
Lost Baggage Fee. I don’t care if they eventually deliver the bags to my front door: If the airlines insist on charging a fee to carry my luggage, then I’ll charge them a fee whenever they lose it.
Non-reclining Seat Fee. Yes, another seat fee — if you don’t like it, make your own list. There’s a good reason why the seats in front of any exit row do not recline. That being said, if I have to be stuck in one of those seats — or a similar seat in the last row — then I’m going to charge a fee. Sorry.
Missing Gate Assignment Fee. One of the more frustrating aspects of flying is arriving at your destination after a long flight, only to find yourself immediately stuck on the tarmac because there are no available gates at the terminal — which brings us to my most expensive fee of all:
Hurry Up and Wait Fee. Of course, the airlines will tell you that, when it comes to air travel, delays due to missing gate assignments, interminable TSA queues, equipment problems, schedule logjams, and “acts of God,” come with the territory. Then again, so does passenger luggage. Hey … What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Photo Credit: vox efx
Money Beagle says
The one I would do is a ‘No Overhead Bin Space Available’ fee. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to your seat, and finding that all of the overhead space is taken up by people who are sitting five or six rows away. The flight attendants should be making sure that the size limits are being adhered to and that people are loading them up efficiently so that everybody can store their stuff within a reasonable proximity to where they are seated.
Len Penzo says
Ah, yes! That’s a good one, MB!
As for those carry-on bags … The size of “carry-on” bags that the airlines are letting passengers bring on planes today is amazing. I blame that on people trying to avoid paying those $25 (or higher) baggage fees.
I’d charge a fee for sourpuss flight attendants. Is it me or does it seem like more and more of them hate their jobs?
Len Penzo says
It’s not just you, Palapa.
Brian @ Debt Discipline says
Ha, totally agree on overall crankiness of gate agents, flight attendants etc. Maybe we could work out a reward system for these fees?
I second that!
Molly @ FeeHacks says
I’ll take a Kicked Seat Fee…maybe a Your Connecting Flight Is All The Way Across the Airport So You’re Gonna Have To Run To Catch It Fee…and let’s throw in a You Don’t Even Have Snacks? Fee to finish it off.
Romeo Jeremiah says
Don’t forget the “crying baby fee,” the “opps we overbooked so we don’t have a seat available fee”, and the “what, oh? my bad. We have to put on on the next flight because we don’t have a crew.”
Yes, all of these things have happened to me.
If you have never been the parent of a kicking child or crying baby, I guess this may seem reasonable. Yet even I would differentiate between a kicking child and the crying baby – I challenge anyone to MAKE a baby stop crying, but one can find a way to make a child stop kicking.
Lost baggage fee – at a minimum they should refund you the checked baggage fee if they lose or misroute your bags.
got to have a fee for “sorry we are three hours late and we circled Lake Superior 27 times” and you missed your connection flight and to bad for you fee…..but enjoy the finest seat in the airport till tomorrow night fee, and the no we will not let you call your ride and tell them and no we will not page them and let them know fee…and how about a fee for sitting on the tarmac fee for hours because the airline cannot be bothered to plan ahead and do its job that they get paid to do……and of course the fee for never returning money for a canceled flight ..as promised……
Len Penzo says
I can relate to that, Daryl. Last month my plane to Salt Lake City had to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas (fuel leak). We were stuck there for more than 10 hours while we waited for the airline to fly a mechanic from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and then wait some more for a new plane after the mechanic failed to fix the problem quick enough.
Lost baggage fee is what I need when something in my package goes missing. I was lucky that I had taken a picture what’s in my bag. The airline paid it by the way.
I think the fees are getting ridiculous, especially the government imposed fees. I guess a good way to look at it is, you can get 3000 miles in 5 to 8 hours for as little as $200 if you shop early and can fly on certain slow days. Beats a wagon train or driving by car.
John C @ Action Economics says
I would like to see an “excessive TSA delay” fee. (preferably paid in cash as you exit the TSA line, with an apology) I’ve been to a few airports where these guys are efficient, but once I was flying out of D.C. and the TSA line literally took over an hour, I came really close to missing my flight.