Five airline amenities making a comeback … and the one we want

airline-amenitiesWow, there’s a headline I never thought I’d write! Though I suspect it has little to do with actual customer demand – after all, the airlines don’t even call us customers – several are starting to bring small, small perks back into the cabin. Two factors help, of course: (1) they aren’t expensive and (2) airlines have shown solid profits this year (at least in the United States).

So, despite having to pay for extra bags and invoking ire at the mere request for orange juice, we’re finally going to get something back! What that is depends on where you are in the world, and some of these amenities are downright bizarre. But, the average passenger is probably at a point where even the slightest indication of humanity is incredible. We’re like hungry dogs, after all, and with these in-cabin perks, it feels like the airlines are waving a steak.

What are the airlines offering? Let’s take a look at five amenities, according to MSNBC:1. The “stretch bar”: SAS is installing a bar on some of its flights – and not the drinking kind. It’s an exercise rod that passengers can use to stretch out while on long flights. In continuing to cater to the vain, SAS is also adding mirrors to some seats, so you can make sure you look your hottest without having to leave your seat for a trip to the lavatory.

2. Lighting and sound effects: All Nippon Airways is using these tools to create “a calm cabin atmosphere that invites passengers to relax and rest,” MSNBC reports. The goal is to make flights more comfortable for passengers with late-night departures. The new “Relax” cards go with this – press a button and enjoy the lavender aroma.

3. Happy Moms: Asiana Airlines, based in South Korea, offers a “Happy Mom Service” at many airports, according to MSNBC, with a dedicated check-in line for families with small children. Nursing blankets, baby slings and baby seats are available on board the planes.

4. Locally-sourced booze: Horizon Airlines is kicking in free local wines and microbrews from the Pacific Northwest on its flights – even in coach!

5. In-flight wifi: since a relatively small number of passengers has been using this service, some airlines are seeking out sponsors and offering it up free to passengers. On Delta, AirTran and Virgin America, Google Chrome is ponying up the cash for free passenger use through January 2, 2011.

So, what’s the one amenity not being offered that would make flights so much more comfortable? How about an alternative to the lav for mile-high club membership? It’s not easy to pull off, and there has to be a better way than this.

[photo by PhillipC]

Which airline made the most money on baggage fees?

airline baggage feesLast year, baggage fees were used by airlines to make up for lost fare revenue, as the recession kept people on the ground. This year, it’s just been a great source of extra revenue, as passenger traffic and fares are up – and the fees haven’t gone away. Almost all airlines are getting in on the action, some more egregious than others.

Well, data for the third quarter of 2010 is in, and we can finally take a look at who’s hitting us hardest … and for how much. The numbers will probably shock you. The top baggage fee-grabber owned close to 30 percent of the total baggage fees charged in the United States, a market that has reached $2.6 billion for the first three quarters of the year, and the top five dominate with approximately 80 percent of the total fees charged for bags, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

Let’s take a look at the top five airlines for baggage fee snatching (and then the rest):1. Delta Air Lines, $733 million: in fairness, Delta is the largest airline in the United States, so it’s to be expected that it will generate the most revenue.

2. American Airlines, $431 million: the third-largest airline hits the #2 spot for baggage fees, implying an aptitude for prying open customer wallets yet to be recognized by its competitors.

3. US Airways, $388 million: again, this is an impressive take, as evidenced by the distance between US Airways and Continental, in the #4 spot.

4. Continental Airlines, $258 million: this almost makes the airline look downright reasonable, especially when it’s year-to-date baggage fees aren’t even as substantial as what Delta raked in during the third quarter alone!

5. United Airlines, $239 million:

And, the rest:

6. AirTran Airways: $112 million

7. Alaska Airlines: $81 million

8. Spirit Air Lines: $56 million

9. Frontier Airlines: $44 million

10. JetBlue Airways: $43 million

11. Allegiant Air: $43 million

12. Hawaiian Airlines: $40 million

13. Virgin America: $27 million

14. Southwest Airlines: $23 million

15. Republic Airlines: $18 million

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16. Horizon Air: $13 million

17. Sun Country airlines: $9 million

18. Mesa Airlines: $2 million

19. Continental Micronesia: $2 million

20. USA 3000 Airlines: $2 million

[photo by The Story Lady via Flickr]

New city featured every day during Alaska’s 30% off sale

Thirty percent off is a big chunk of change when it comes to an air ticket. What would you do for that kind of discount? Maybe check online daily to see if the discount applies to your dream destination?

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are betting that’s the case. Starting today, they’ll be discounting a different city each day by 30% in their Deep Daily Discounts promotion.

Today, Phoenix is the featured city. To get 30% off your flight to or from Phoenix, you’ll want to use the discount code EC140109. But of course, it’s only available until 11:59 p.m. (PT).

Each city is a surprise–the day’s featured city is announced at midnight. Because of the short window of opportunity each day, it makes sense to anticipate the location and dates of your dream trip ahead of time.

The sale ends in two weeks, on Monday, April 27th.