by Brian Wolfman
Despite the view among some consumers that the airlines are gouging consumers with fees, a recent study shows that fees are a very small part of the overall cost of flying. That may change. This article by Jim Martin explains that the airlines are introducing new fees. Here are some excerpts:
Among the fees airlines have announced in the last few weeks are a charge to zip through airport screening gates and board early, a fee to watch streaming movies and a fee to have your bags delivered in 36 cities around the country. It should be no surprise that airlines keep coming up with new fees: Combined, such charges generated an estimated $36 billion in 2012 for the world's largest airlines. ... United Airlines now allows economy passengers to board with the first group of passengers and to speed through "exclusive" security gates with shorter lines. The airline says the Premier Access fee starts at $9, but the charge for a typical flight is closer to $50 to $100. ... United has also expanded a service to deliver checked luggage to your home, office or hotel within 100 miles of the airport. The fee, starting at $29.95, has been expanded from six cities to 36, including San Francisco, San Diego and Palm Springs. Southwest Airlines now lets passengers with laptop computers or electronic tablets watch streaming movies on most of its planes for $5 per movie, per device. Southwest already charges $8 per day to connect to the onboard wireless Internet, but you don't need to pay for Wi-Fi access to watch the streaming movies.
None of these fees seems like a great imposition on consumers. They are for things that are distinct from the airlines' core job of getting you from point A to point B -- that is, different from misleading fees for the seats themselves and fees that make it difficult for consumers to comparison shop.