Which New Airline Fees Are Next

It’s been nearly three years since oil spiked to $150 a barrel, sending the airline industry into a death spiral. Delta Airlines says its annual fuel costs may rise by $1 billion in 2011 according to a memo yesterday to its employees.

“The biggest issue we face is the recent steep run-up in fuel prices” — Delta CFO Hank Halter

The airlines have learned how to withstand higher oil prices, and it’s by charging us novel and inspired ancillary fees.

Ever aware of the new economy paradigm in vacation travel, the industry is loathe to raise basic airfares. That won’t stop them from a slew of  fees as oil prices continue to climb.

Ancillary fees must be reinvented

The industry stumbled upon the realization that they can make more money from fees than from flying.

Last year, airlines collected $22.6 billion in ancillary fees, up from $13.5 billion just a year earlier. One problem for the industry is that we’ve pretty well caught on to their fees and have learned how to mitigate them as much as possible.

Those charges include change fees, checked bag fees and paying for food. Ancillary fees will now need to be reinvented in order to create substantial new revenue.

The new fees I expect to see include:

1. Incremental baggage fees. Pay both by the pound as well as by the mile for checked and for carry-on bags. Also expect a penalty for not paying for bags in advance.

2. Lap-held infant fee.

3. Seating assignment fee. Pay extra to reserve any seat in advance or take your chances at the airport.

4. Credit card surcharge. Since these aren’t legal, it will probably be called a booking convenience fee, as is true with other online ticket purchases.

The widely rumored long shot: Premium Restroom Convenience Fee

If they could they would do it in a heartbeat. What about one free lavatory in economy with a long line, and the remaining lavatories available on a fee basis. The only issue is how to keep you from letting the next person in for free. That’s one I don’t have an answer for.

Which new airline fees do you expect to see?

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5 thoughts on “Which New Airline Fees Are Next”

  1. If I was looking for a fee, it would be for overhead storage space. If you don’t reserve and pay for it, everything’s going to be sitting under the seat. If it doesn’t fit, it has to be checked…and you can get it at your destination baggage claim after you pay your fee there.

  2. How about a “get you there alive” fee with a full refund if they fail to achieve their goal. and penalties for missing or damaged body parts! (no extra fee for the groping!)

  3. I guess the big question is just How Much Does One Airline NEED to Make in One Year to be Happy?

    Just put in pay/fee toilets. Charge a high price/fee if you desire to use a clean toilet, another lower price/fee for one those who don’t care if it looks like a service station restroom. No extra charges/fees for filth. They save a bundle because they don’t have to pay anyone to clean it. :0(

    Sadly, if fares and fees go up much more, we will be doing some serious ‘rethinking’ about our air travel in particular and vacationing in general in our retirement years.

  4. We in Canada already pay a seat assignment fee on both our main airlines – WestJet and Air Canada. I believe it is $20 per seat reserved. Either that or take your chances on sitting together.

  5. Just put the “fees” in the price of the ticket then it won’t seem to be so obtrusive..They then could give you discounts if you don’t use the things that the fees cover..ie: no baggage at all, and you don’t care where you sit etc.

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