Say this for American Airlines: When it comes to finding new ways to reach into your pocket, they are endlessly creative.
The buzz in the airline industry this week focuses on a pair of new fees being charged by American Airlines.
Want to fly standby on American? That’ll be $50, thank you.
Mind you, these fees don’t apply to people flying First or Business Class or who’ve put in enough miles (and money) with American to earn elite passenger status. Nor will they be applied against military personnel. Just regular folks flying in Coach.
In fact, it doesn’t even apply to everybody in Coach — just those who buy the cheapest class of Coach ticket. You know, the ones you can’t change without being charged somewhere between $75 and $150?
(When it comes to airfares in general, believe me, class counts.)
American says they’re doing this to improve their operations. Don’t like having all those would-be standby passengers crowding around the gates, you see.
What an eye-opener. I had no idea that having people around your gate who wanted to fly on your airline was actually a bad thing. Who’d have thought!
The other fee has to do with your comfort once you’ve found your way onto the plane. The airline now plans to charge you $8 for a blanket and a pillow on its flights within North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.
To be fair, they weren’t the first ones to come up with this. They’re merely following the example set by JetBlue and US Airways.
All this merely follows a trend established over the last few years once the Great Recession took hold. Rather than be honest and raise their fares, airlines are playing a new game, tacking on extra charges for everything they can think of. This enables them to say “See, we’re not raising your ticket prices!”
And you thought “plausible deniability” was strictly the realm of government. Instead of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, it’s Pin the Fee on the Public.
You have to hand it to the airlines. Anybody could raise their prices, but to reach deeper into your pocket while insulting your intelligence at the same time? Now that takes talent.
Then too, American may shortly be facing an added expense — a $10 million fine from the Federal Aviation Administration for safety violations in nearly 300 of its airplanes. It may well be the largest such fine in the history of U.S. aviation.
This is the same American Airlines that was fined $7 million by the FAA two years ago for knowingly letting two planes fly with a malfunctioning autopilot.
Not once, not twice, but 58 times.
That was the same year the FAA also fined Southwest Airlines $10 million for letting their maintenance slide. There is some sentiment in Washington that American deserves an even bigger hit.
Surely, you don’t expect American and its stockholders to pay that out of their own pockets, do you?
Oh, stop complaining! Just bend over…and take your blanket!
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