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The Airline Fees You Should Be Complaining About

I am oh-so-tired of hearing people whine about airline fees – the $6 to watch the movie; the $20 to check the bag; the $6 for the pillow.  Boo hoo.

You want to complain about airline fees?  Here’s a set of fees you should complain about:

Using the really, really fantastic On the Fly app from ITA Software, I recently did a search for a New York to London flight.  The roundtrip fare on Continental Airlines (though several others were similar) was $582.40.  But that’s not really true: the total price of the ticket was $582.40, but the fare was $72.50 each way.

Yes, the price of a New York to London ticket is $72.50, or $145 round trip.  The fees on that ticket are $437.40.  What fees?  $252 in fuel surcharges.  $128.30 for the UK government.  $32.60 to the US government for arrival and departure taxes.  Immigration fees, customs fees, September 11th security fees, and on and on.

These fees aren’t new – certainly airlines have been using fuel surcharges for years.  And governments always want their cut.  But these are mandatory fees, yet no one complains about them.  Why do travelers have such an issue when an airline is providing a service (food, TV, checking your bags) in exchange for a nominal charge when that same airline is charging you more for the fuel ($252) than for the price of the ticket ($145)?  Isn’t that more disgusting than Spirit charging $3 for a soda?  Ryanair has figured it out by often charging nothing for the fare and making it up in additional fees (Spirit similarly).  Yet they are derided for it.

Let’s just get it straight:  while Spirit is nickel and diming you, the legacy airlines are hundred-dollaring you.

(The most egregious I’ve seen is JFK – Baku (Azerbaijian) in late January.  Round trip fare: $220.  Total round trip price: $723).

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  1. It gets better.

    Fly on Iberia into Madrid you get dinged hard. $250?

    Fly on Continental and the fees are about $50.

    Different terminals, same airport, different fees.

    And I’d agree the fuel surcharge is the airlines fault, but the rest is airport and national authorities.

    As the airlines say, everyone else in this business makes money instead of them…

  2. Shutterfly Travel Club

    It really is mind blowing!

    When I bring groups to many foreign countries my people often complain about the added airport taxes we have to pay before passing security.

    “The US doesn’t charge this crap” they say….

    Of course they do! It’s just already built into the price like these other fees in this post!

    Eye opening and depressing for many I’m sure…

  3. I think the reason is most people don’t “see” the fees in the ticket price. Take us for instance: 2 adult economy class tickets from Budapest to NYC and return. Price: 980 Euro or something like this. We decide to pay or not. But only yesterday we actually took a look at the fee break down to see what we’re actually paying. And you’re right, the ticket in itself is cheap, we pay for all other stuff though.

    It’s easier to see, when you’re in the plane that you have to pay for this and that. Of course, no one forces you to pay, but these fees appear as “extras” and people are annoyed, not seeing they’ve already paid a lot in the ticket price, things that cost more than the juice or other stuff.

  4. Top 100 Travel Blogs - L I V A - pingback on March 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

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