In the News: Airline fees complicate travel cost comparisons
May 31st, 2013

Reuters logoReuters consumer columnist Mitch Lipka has an excellent column on how airline fees are making it extremely difficult for travelers to comparison shop for the true “all-in” cost (fares+fees+taxes) of airfares:

Airline fees complicate travel cost comparisons

Trying to find the best deal for a flight used to be a lot easier. All you had to do was look at the price of airfare – and you could easily compare one to the next.

Not anymore. As the summer travel season ramps up, it’s all about the fees: fees for boarding passes; fees for seating; fees to flight changes; fees for your bags. Fees, fees and more fees.

“A lot of travelers are realizing they can’t just price-shop anymore,” says Annie Wang, senior travel strategy analyst for the website TravelNerd.com.

It’s certainly more involved for consumers to weigh the cost of traveling with a particular airline versus the competition, but travel experts suggest comparison is still possible.

“You have to do the math,” says Seth Kaplan, publisher of the industry publication Airline Weekly. “You really have to really think it all through.”

Homework is necessary because the picture changes constantly. Earlier this month, Frontier Airlines became the third carrier to charge certain passengers for carry-on bags. Most of the leading U.S. air carriers recently announced increases to the cost of changing flight reservations. And it is no longer a given that you can sit with a family member – you may have to pay extra.

Indeed, some airlines apply a seat surcharge that varies if you sit in a window, aisle or middle seat. In 2012 alone, airlines changed 52 fees, raising 36 and mostly mixing others together, according to a TravelNerd survey.

Tell the U.S. Department of Transportation that it’s time that the airlines make this fee information available in a transparent, simple to use, and purchase format to all consumers, regardless of where they purchase their airfares. Sign the This Is Your Passenger Speaking petition today!