American Airlines is taking you places you've never been before! Unfortunately, they're in your wallet.
The airline has invented a new surcharge. This one, which it gilds with the name "Express Seats," will hit you for $19 to $39, depending on the length of the flight. That's for the privilege to sit in the first few rows of coach, including bulkhead seats.
The fee also buys passengers elitism, or at least is passes itself off as a perk, in that it grants the right to board with the first group of general boarding. The fee is sold to customers as being part of a suite of add-on fees the airline sweetly calls "Your Choice services". Other fees include the right to be charged a more fair $75 for flight changes, instead of the usual $150.The seats can be purchased only at airport kiosks starting 24 hours before the flight.
"This is another great product under the Your Choice program that puts more travel choices in the customer's hands," gushed an American Airlnes exec at the announcement. Of course, he didn't mention that sitting in the seats used to be free, so it also takes a big choice out of their hands.
Parents with small children are big patrons of bulkhead seats, and the new fee turns that area into a little First Class, but without the perks. It also may squeeze young families into the rest of the coach section, where close quarters and screaming children are likely to become closer bedfellows on your next long American Airlines flight.
Other airlines also charge for seats depending on where they are, including for exit rows, which were once the last free province for tall fliers. Now, the seating chart of the typical airliner is as tiered as an Italian opera house.
If you pay for these seats, you're only encouraging them. Add this one to WalletPop's list of other outrageous fees.
Follow WalletPop's Jason Cochran on Facebook.
Investing in Emerging Markets
Learn to invest in a globalized world.View Course »