Lifestyles Report…Airline Fees gone wild

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Anyone who has flown recently knows that it costs so much more to fly than it did about 15 years ago. I had to travel recently on business and made my reservations online; if I call and speak to a live human being it will cost me a fee, I didn’t bother to ask how much.

I’m online making my reservations and it gets to the point where I select my seat. Since a non-stop flight is a rare thing out of Pittsburgh, I had to select four seats for my trip, two going and two coming back. I get to the connecting flight and it shows no seats available, but for a $15 dollar fee I was allowed to select a seat.  Are you kidding me? The fine print did say I could not pay and they would pick a seat for me. I was afraid I would not have a seat so I paid the $15.

Remember the days of free peanuts, pretzels and cookies? It seems that those days are long gone, now you get a free soft drink and nothing else. Everyone is getting on the plane with food or junk food, or they are eating while waiting at the gate.

Did you know you can now pay a fee that will allow you to keep on your shoes and go through a more dignified pre check? It is called the TSA pre-check and there is a nonrefundable fee of $85.

At random you may see the TSA pre-check on your boarding pass, I did right after I got my passport. It was so nice to keep on my shoes and I did not have to pull out my one-quart plastic bag with the toiletries. I don’t think I want to pay for this privilege. Interested applicants must visit an enrollment center to provide biographic information that includes name, date of birth and address. An applicant will be fingerprinted and required to provide valid identity and citizenship/immigration documentation. Some of the other domestic fees include carrying on your pet for $125, Wi-Fi access for $8, blanket and pillow for $5.99 and headsets for $2.

Because of the fees for checking your bag, I finally learned how to pack everything I need into carry-on luggage. That is not really so bad, you just have to drag your luggage between connecting flights, but the up side is you have everything with you and you don’t have to go to baggage claim.

There are also fees at many U.S. airlines for early boarding, unaccompanied minors, processing a ticket purchased with award miles, getting a ticket issued by an airline reservations clerk, using a mileage-based upgrade, and overweight bags and oversize luggage. Actual ticket prices account for just 70 percent of the revenue at major airlines, down from 84 percent in 2000, according to the Department of Transportation. Fees tacked on for checked luggage and reservation changes alone accounted for $6.1 billion in revenue last year, up from $5.7 billion the year before.  Talk about fees.

(Email the columnist at debbienorrell@aol.com)

 

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