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Airline Fees Gouging America

The Airplane Flight Experience Can Be Quite Traumatic

A scene from the movie "Airplane."


I recently flew from L.A. to Houston via Dallas. I originally made a mistake and booked my trip to Austin, not Houston (It's a long story). My friends at American charged me $75 each way to make the change ($150). Had I checked my bag each way it would have cost $25 ($50). If I had wanted to sit in the front of the coach that would have been an extra ($39). Had I wanted a bag of chips it would have been ($5). That's $244 in extra fees. The round trip ticket cost about the same. There's something wrong with this picture.

It has been estimated that in 2010, airlines earned $22 billion from these fees, or 5% of global industry revenue. Some charge for pillows, blankets and other amenities that used to be free. The airlines are now testing various new fees for services that never were part of a ticket: Want a seat that reclines more? A pre-ordered Champaign brunch in coach? Insurance against a blizzard that delays or cancels a flight? Access to speedy security lines and early boarding? They may become available for a price before too long.

Here's my top ten list of recommendations for the airlines to impose more fees on the flying public and how to avoid paying for them.

10. Charge if a passenger needs counter help for any reason (use your computer before boarding, blackberry, iPhone or iPad).

9.  Add a service fee for any food ordered on the plane (bring your own food).

8. Charge if a passenger brings her own food on the plane (buy your food on the plane).

7. Charge if a passenger uses the lavatory (pee at home or in the airport).

6. Charge if the passenger doesn't flush the toilet or clean the sink counter in the lavatory (pay a flight attendant to clean it after each visit).

5. Double charge if a passenger tries to go to the lavatory while food cart service is in progress (I can't say it; use your imagination).

4. Charge again when that passenger returns to her seat (take the flight attendant's seat).

3. Charge if a passenger wants to deplane first before all other passengers (push someone off first before you go).

2. Charge if a passenger gets off the plane at the final destination (hide in the overhead bin and deplane while no one is looking).

AND THE #1 RECOMMENDATION....................

1. Charge to get a boarding pass from the airlines to get on the plane (go to a new business service that just went IPO -- Forgeries R Us).

 Have a safe journey.