Passengers Say They Miss Luggage-Inclusive Airfares the Most
It's been more than two years since most major airlines "unbundled" their fares and began charging passengers for the first checked bag. And although air travelers are now paying more for their luggage than ever --
A survey of more than 1,000 travelers by the
"It's almost impossible for the casual traveler to go without luggage, or even the road warriors who have to stay over several nights," says
Airlines have used these and other surcharges, such as ticket change fees, to return to profitability. Last week, for example,
"A la carte revenues represent 100 percent of that profitability," he said.
Passengers know the fees are an important source of revenue. But it doesn't seem to matter.
"It's good for the airlines because they are picking up a lot of money in fees," says Tab Stone, a pediatrician from
One reason luggage fees are so problematic to airline passengers is that there's a perception the fees are being charged in a dishonest way. When the fees were added, airlines suggested the change would be a temporary measure to offset higher fuel prices. But the fees stayed, even when fuel costs dropped.
Travelers are used to their bags flying with them at no additional cost, and that becomes a challenge when they're fare shopping.
"The problem is, there's no comparison point," says
A proposed federal regulation would change that. The government is considering a requirement that airlines quote a "full" fare, including all mandatory charges, as well as that full fare plus the cost of baggage charges that traditionally have been included in the price of the ticket. If the rule is put into effect early next year, it might effectively end flier's frustration with baggage fees.
One thing the federal government can't regulate, because it is impossible to quantify, is airline service. Beyond baggage problems, airline service was what air travelers say they missed more than anything.
"I miss the courtesy and helpfulness of the airline staff," says
"All the joy and thrill of flying has been sucked out of the experience," she says. "Every part of flying has become a hassle from making the reservation, to packing, to getting through security, to cattle herding onto the plane, having to stay in your seat virtually the entire time, and hope your bags have made it to your destination."
Travelers say it can't continue like this.
"The devious ways of hiding the true cost of flying is not acceptable in any other industry," says
"I think that the airlines are the worst-managed industry that we have in America," he adds.
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