Long gone are the days in which you paid a price for an airline ticket, and got a decent seat and a meal. Seats have been getting crammed closer and closer together to maximize airline revenue, and for many fliers, you can't even get a drink of water with your airfare. Commonplace fees now include: checked baggage, all beverages, all snacks, better seats (like exit row with a little extra leg room or non-middle seat), and blankets.
Would you pay a fee for additional "perks" on your flight? (As if the above can actually be called perks!) WestJet is surveying its customers and asking that very question. They're considering a $10 fee for things like: priority boarding and exiting, expedited baggage delivery, in-flight internet access, in-seat electricity access, guaranteed space in an overhead bin, and faster clearance through security.
Then there's the "would you like your ticket reduced by $10" for these items: not checking bags, not earning frequent flier miles, taking only one small carry-on, sitting in a middle seat, no free beverages, sitting in a seat that doesn't recline, and sitting near babies and children.
Some of these items are compelling. How I would love to be guaranteed that I don't have to sit near children. In-flight internet and electricity would appeal to me as well. I think that in some ways, rethinking these things makes sense. An airplane isn't meant to be a hotel in the air. It's more like a bus in the air, and a million perks during the flight aren't necessary.
On the other hand, the "nickel and dime" method of flying seems to be doing nothing other than irritating fliers. Many that I talk to would rather just have the "fees" included in the original price of a ticket, rather than being slapped in the face with an extra charge each time they turn around.
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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