Have Airlines Run Out Of Annoying Fees?

So, it’s not exactly good news, but between the toilet tax and priority boarding fees, Reuters thinks that airlines may have run out of “perks” worth excluding from a ticket’s base price. The bad news? All those new airline fees aren’t going anywhere. American Airlines, which last year pocketed an extra billion in “ancillary revenue,” calls them “a pretty big success story.”

Experts generally agree that airlines are running out of ways to charge for items that customers currently take for granted. But that won’t stop carriers from introducing new items and services to sell on flights, said Andrew Watterson, an airline consultant and at Oliver Wyman, a management consulting company.

“Unbundling was the trend, and that did create lots of value in the airlines. The future is in rebundling,” said Watterson.

He noted the influx into coach cabins of superior-quality meals, day passes to airport lounges and the option to purchase frequent flyer miles. All these can be purchased on some airlines for additional fees.

BTC’s Mitchell agreed. He said that airlines are beefing up their merchandising and soon will sell many more perks in cabins that previously did not have access to them.

“They’re going to use the cabin for all manner of merchandising,” Mitchell said.

“There’s all kinds of opportunities,” he said. “You have a captive audience.”

Oh boy, merchandising, just we wanted on our next flight!

We’re sure the airlines will eventually find a way to keep the fee spigot from stopping up; like, oh, charging more for existing fees, maybe?

U.S. airlines may have reached limit on new fees [Reuters via Rick Seaney]
(Photo: ragekagekaren)