New fees aren’t new, but airlines keep trying

Cheaper fares are being offset by an array of extra fees, as airlines try to bring in some extra revenue in order to keep planes in the sky. And, to a certain extent, it’s working. United Airlines forecasts $1 billion in revenue from these fees this year – accounting for more than 5 percent of its revenue. But, as they try to find new ways to dig into your wallet, fewer and fewer new ideas are popping up, according to an article in MSNBC.

US Airways and United have found that the best new fee is just the same ol’ one: put one fee on top of an existing one. Passengers who pay their extra baggage fees online can avoid an additional $5 fee that’s assessed at the airport. United’s came into effect on June 10, 2009, with US Airways’ bringing it to life on July 9. AirTran is nailing passengers for the extra legroom of an exit row to the tune of $20. Again, it’s not new … it’s just new to AirTran’s passengers.

You don’t need to be big to think big. Smaller airlines are getting in on the game, too. Allegiant Air charges a $13.50 “convenience fee” for passengers wanting to buy their tickets online. This one actually is fairly new, as most airlines realize that they can save a fortune by using technology (who’d’ve thunk it?) to sell things instead of paying people more for a slower process. Spanish airline Vueling makes you pay for choice. Want to pick your seat? Pay €3 (around $4.50). Another €30 will get you an aisle or window – and an empty aisle seat beside you! That’s a deal I’d definitely pay for.

Of course, Ryanair remains the master. If you want to check in at the airport: €10 ($13.50). So, you decide to save some cash and check in online … €5. You can’t win!

Only a year ago, most passengers were able to dodge the fees, since you didn’t get slammed until you checked a third bag or sent an unaccompanied minor into the sky. Today, nothing’s sacred. Delta and AirTran claim not to have plans to charge for carry-ons … but why would they say that? Clearly, it’s crossed somebody’s mind.

The only way to beat the fees, it seems, is to fly first class. Hey, if you’re already paying a fortune, the airlines will probably want to treat you well.