More fees coming, because everyone likes paying more, right?

The Q1 financial numbers that came out from the legacy carriers last week were miserable.  Just awful.  Most are still suffering from their fuel hedge bets and some are also just losing money on top of that.  Things are not good in those quarters.  But they are doing well with realizing revenues for incremental fees, things like checked baggage and preferred seating have done very well for the carriers that charge for those things.  So no harm in trying to run up the score on that front, right?

Delta and US Airways plan to find out in the coming months with a couple new fees announced this past week.  US Air is now going to allow their customers to pre-pay for checked baggage fees online rather than having to pay at the airport.  Nice, right?  Well, sortof.  The kicker is that if you don’t pay in advance online you pay $5 extra per bag for the privilege of checking them in.  The fees rise to $20 and $30 at the airport rather than the current $15 and $25.  This new scheme goes into play on July 9.

Delta is going even further, at least figuratively speaking, with their baggage fees.  They will start charging fees on international itineraries for the checking of a second bag.  At $50/bag they expect to realize $1MM in revenue from this move.  That would be 20,000 fees paid.  As elites are exempt those 20,000 fees have to come from folks who are not necessarily particularly loyal to Delta.  Since Delta is the only carrier with such a charge on their books, it remains to be seen if Delta will suffer on the booking front because of this.  The new fee goes into effect on July 1, just in time for the peak summer European travel season.  At least Delta is exempting tickets purchased prior to the announcement.  They haven’t always done this so it is nice to see them show a bit of decency in their policy there.

At a time when demand is low doing anything to turn customers off from your service seems foolish to me.  I guess time will tell how well things play out for them.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.