WaPo: Fee-happy airlines raise the bar again

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    By Christopher Elliott, Published: May 9

    It isn’t shaping up to be a good summer for air travelers who are trying to stick to a budget. And let’s be honest: Who isn’t watching his bottom line?
    A few weeks before the traditional start of the busy travel season, United Airlines quietly raised its change fees on most discount fares from $150 to $200, rendering many of its tickets all but unchangeable.

    American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways quickly followed.
    Not to be outdone, Frontier Airlines announced that for tickets booked anywhere except on its Web site, it would raise its luggage charges and impose a fee of up to $100 for certain carry-on bags, the third U.S. carrier to do this. Most economy-class passengers will also have to pay $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice.

    You read correctly: That fee is for a carry-on bag, not a checked bag.

    The moves provoked an immediate outcry from fee-weary passengers, who accused the now-profitable airline industry of making a money grab just as the vacation season begins. But a closer look at their frustrations shows that their options for fighting these new surcharges are limited.

    “Airlines have crossed the line and will continue to cross the line, whether it be change fees, baggage fees or whatever other fees they can think up,” says Dale Mellor, a finance director from Steamboat Springs, Colo. “We are largely powerless.”

    But just how powerless?

    ...continue reading...

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