Paying More is Good, Right?

The news media has really been hard pressed to come up with actual news these days (because as we all know there is nothing at all going on in the world these days), and I’ve seen an increase in painful to read opinion pieces. Normally I just grumble a little, perhaps share it with a person or two, then walk away. Today, however, I felt that this might make for some good material.

What premise is that has raised my ire while nursing the first coffee of the morning? “Airline fees aren’t all that bad.” Yes, someone is actually choosing to defend the price gouging of the airline industry. The title was enough to make me go What The… But after a cleansing breath I figured, well maybe this person actually has some point I never thought of – some brilliant insight that will make me see everything in a brand new light. Yeah, right.

The ever increasing add-on fees that airlines have been imposing the last several years have gotten a lot of press. They rank above, in many travelers minds, the TSA for the most annoying thing about air travel these days. In fact it hardly seems a month can go by without some airline inventing some new fee to further burden the pocket book. To say that this never ending cavalcade of fees has a good side (to people other than investors in the airline industry) is ludicrous.

The authors premise that fees make it so that one pays for what they get rather than paying for many services that they don’t care about is absurd. Perhaps if the airline industry lowered the average fare rate and then added fees for additional services the author’s argument might be given some merit, but the fact that the fees are imposed on top of the current fares takes a lot away from that premise. It’s especially worse because the airline advertises all these services they have as perks of traveling with them, but then wants to charge you extra once you’ve purchased your ticket. Those aren’t perks, those are optional extras and shouldn’t be advertised as why flying on airline x is superior to catching a ride with airline y. It’s especially absurd to claim that baggage fees make sense as carrying your luggage is a basic service of transportation. What’s next, I buy a car, but if I want the trunk to be accessible I have to pay additional service fees to the manufacturer? Plus the more burdened travelers are with checked baggage fees the more they resort to cramming as much as possible on to carry-on making boarding an unboarding a nightmare of rude people all clamoring for as much space ass they can grab at.

Fees exist simply so that they don’t have to dramatically increase ticket rates to cover their losses in these rough economic times. When people scour the Internet for the lowest fare the airlines have come up with fees as a way to make up for the loss while allowing them to look competitive from a ticket pricing standpoint. People might balk at fees, but they would scream murder if the overall average ticket price dramatically shot up. It’s part of the psychology of traveling and the airlines know it. If they can find creative ways to get a dollar here and another dollar there they will. The airlines are a business and they aren’t there for your comfort, they are there to make money. But that doesn’t mean we should go about saying that these extra fees are a good thing in terms of air travel.

The only part of the author’s article that I agree with is that fees are here to stay. They are going to become an accepted part of air travel that people are just going to learn to accept rather than having to come up with slower or less convenient means of reaching their destination. For me, however, between fees and complimentary gropings, well the next trip to see my parents we’re planning on taking a couple extra days so we can drive there and back.