Life

More Airline Fees Don’t Make Air Travel Better

Airline fees are making travel a less and less-enjoyable experience these days. But one airline may have just started a trend that’ll make things worse.

There was a time when checking bags on an airliner was free. The airlines seemed so genuinely happy to have your business that they apparently believed offering such a service was the least they could do.

Then someone, unfortunately, got the idea to start charging for this practice.

These days, my preferred airline, Delta — hey, I’ve never had a bad experience with them — is one of several these days that charges a fee for checking bags.

It’s not a small fee, either. Having to pay $10 might be one thing. But facing a charge of up to $40 to check one bag?

That’s outrageous in my book. So I refuse to check my bag. I drag it through security, then through the terminal, then up the jetway to the plane (assuming I’m not told at the terminal that there’s not enough room, at which point the airline checks the bag…for free.)

Go figure.

United has come up with a new fee, though the airline claims it isn’t adding a fee at all. The Washington Post reported the airline will now offer a “basic economy” option that allows you to carry on one personal item that must fit under the seat, but without free overhead storage.

United says this isn’t a new airline fee and is telling its Twitter critics it won’t charge a fee for overhead space for basic economy passengers; that’s accurate, some might say, if those passengers don’t get the option for overhead space at all.

But here’s the kicker:

United explained that this is all for the benefit of passengers. United’s President Scott Kirby told Reuters that surveys indicated travelers and employees do not like scrambling to store carry-on bags in the limited overhead bins.

Talk about misinterpreting a survey!

I’m quite sure the survey did produce results stating passengers and employees hate the overhead bin packing scramble. But that doesn’t mean they want the option taken away.

It might just mean they’d like planes with a little more room so there’s no scramble. In the mad dash many airlines have begun to pack more people into each flight, they’ve managed to not increase the storage space available for the bags.

So you’re damned if you do and nearly damned if you don’t: checking your bags — to avoid the “scramble” and provide more space so there’s less of one for the passengers who do carry on their luggage with the overhead bins in mind — means you’ll shell out an outrageous fee. And trying to save money on airfare means you may not even have the option to engage in the scramble at all.

There has to be a better way to run an airline.

I suspect if airline CEOs actually had to fly in coach, these things would change pretty quickly.

But that’s just a guess.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.