Fares and Fees

By | March 20, 2009

Joe Sharkey of the New York Times wrote earlier this week on the current glut of seat sales, maintaining it won’t last. The sales are breaking out mostly on routes where the competition is heavy or business travel has significantly decreased…but this has often been the case.

The future, according to Sharkey, is as follows:

“Look at the methodical way that the domestic airlines are planning for a future in which booking a flight will be a little like ordering from a Chinese takeout menu. That is, it will be efficient, user friendly and full of à la carte choices.”

Figuring out fees is, for most people, a difficult task. The Airline Tariff Publishing Company(ATPCO), which most airlines participate in, is working on uniform service codes to allow fee comparisons, as are booking systems like Sabre. Currently, third-parties such as Travelocity, Orbitz, etc are limited in their ability to sell these fees, making them a day of travel unexpected add-on. But this technology is coming, in some cases is already here. It will take time though, to be fully integrated.

Reuters comments that fees may be reaching a peak. After adding fees for seat assignments and bags, there simply aren’t many more complimentary items and services airlines can ‘pry loose’ from the base fare. US Airways tried to charge for beverages, and recently backed off on that as unsuccessful. This won’t, however, stop airlines for looking for new services and items to sell, such as the pillow and blanket bundles US Airways and JetBlue sell, or Buy on Board meals..

They may, like many airlines overseas, work to sell you things as you sit. After all, you are a captive audience.

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