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May 21, 2008

Traveler reaction to the new AA fees

The sentiment from travelers seems to be all over the place.

Many at Dallas/Fort Worth Worth Airport today actually said they understand why American is instituting the fees -- because of higher fuel costs.

But that still doesn't mean people like Dhaval Parikh are happy about it.

He and several other family members just arrived on an American Airlines flight from Detroit, and they had checked a total of seven bags.

"I think they're trying to nickel and dime us for too many things," Parikh said as he struggled to grab all of his overstuffed bags off the conveyor belt near gate C31.

But, with three kids, he said there's "no way to cut back" on the number of bags they're toting.

Richard Bolstau, traveler who just flew in from Florida with his wife, said in response to the new $15 checked bag fee: "They need new management."

Angie Bowen, a resident of Pace, Flor., arrived today to visit her daughter.

When asked about the newest charge to check one bag, she said, "That's a bummer." But Bowen, who flies about three to four times a year, said there's not a whole lot she can do about it.

"If I have to go, I have to go," she said.

But Dallas resident Lucia Katz had a completely different reaction.

"It's just another reason not to go," she said. "I think it's outrageous."

Katz flew home to D/FW Airport with her 16-year-old dog, Max, who she has to pay $80 each way to travel with.

Los Angeles resident John Glascock sat near one of the ticket counters in Terminal C trying to shift some stuff around in his large suitcase he was about to check.

He called the $15 charge a "minor detail."

"There's a lot of airlines doing a la carte for a lot of things," said Glascock, who travelers about twice a year. "It's almost like winning the lottery when you find a cheap airline ticket."

--David Wethe

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Comments

UpstartWyn

The bag fee will just make people take larger, heavier carryons into the cabin. The next thing you know, they'll weigh all passengers. (Maybe that would be good.) Why don't airlines start given incentives to passengers instead of penalties? That could make people like the airline.

They could give people discounts or perks like free food for weighing less (a lower bodymass), for having lighter carryons and for having lighter suitcases. It would be good for people's health and for the airline.

John Shuman

For years the airlines would not spend 25 or 50 cents per bag to track baggage with RFID insisting that passengers would not pay it. Now they charge $15 which will most certainly increase over time. It is simply outrageous. The techology is proven and available. The aviation industry needs to upgrade or get downgraded by customers. The arrogance of American Airlines only now admits it has failed. Now it trys to make matters worse. When will management finally understand how to deliver service like Emirates Airlines, Singapore Airlines and JAL??
Oh, I know, when they are ultimately replaced by them as Detroit autos were replaced by Japanese cars.

Michael

These fees and surcharges are getting out of hand. And the reason is simple: price is king. I have been in marketing my entire professional life. The end-all-be-all goal of every company is "offer the lowest rate", be it hotels, cars, or airlines. So how do you continue to offer, say, $199 round-trip tickets when your cost of doing business continues to go up? Easy! Assess "fees". There is no law that says I have to disclose or factor in the amounts of my fees in my price, just that I have to say that there are “added fees." A few mandatory dollars for this service, a few for that service, and presto! My CDBs are covered and I can still advertise "low rates" to hook in the public. The "ticket" is $199, but the final charge for getting John Q. Public from Point A to Point B and back is $279 plus tax! Why is this garbage tolerated in the travel industry? Can you imagine the backlash if Kellogg's priced their cereal at, say, $4 a box, but at check out you got assessed fees for "boxing", "storing", "transporting", and "advertising"? Making your final "purchase price" $6.50, plus tax? They don't do it because it is ABSURD! The price tag would simply go up, period!!! I, for one, am speaking up with my actions. Even though I would have been exempt from the bag fee and the price was the same, this past week I purchased about $7,000 in airfare for a large family vacation this fall with Spirit instead of AA. AA will now have to check 467 bags at $15 each to make up for the lost revenue. I hope it was worth it.

Terri Maurer

If fuel prices are the factor affecting the cost to fly the planes from one location to another, add the $15 to the ticket price. That, people can understand. But, selling a ticket to travel to a far off destination and then adding, "Oh, by the way, you can't take any fresh clothing for your week long stay unless you pay extra us to toss your suitcase in the luggage hold."

Of course, added bags mean added weight and using more fuel. So, charge for the 2nd bag on shorter trips where one bag should be sufficient. Airplane boarding has been a nightmare already, now it will become even worse, taking more time as people struggle to carry on everything to avoid this stupid fee.

What about those smaller, handicapped or elderly passengers without the strength to heave their suitcase up into an overhead bin? This clearly discriminates against those passengers. Today, air travel has all the "allure" of bus travel.

I will definitely not be looking for air fares with American any time soon.

Billie Walker

Everyone complains about the hight cost of flying, and the added costs of luggage now. Well there is one simple solution to this--allow us to DRILL for our own oil. The Airlines sited from other countries as being sooo great are from countries that drill for their own oil and actually provide incentives to oil companies instead of taxing and placing impediments in thier way as the USA does. You can dance around the issue or face it head on and allow our oil companies to drill and refine oil right here in the great USA. If not we will be on par with the 3rd world countries soon!

David

Sad to see any major airline follow the same line of disregard for their customers as the budget airlines have (surcharges, fees, etc).

Even sadder to see American Airline (my preferred carrier) taking this line. It might have been acceptable IF they had newer, safer, more comfortable planes, hadn't been caught napping (avoiding?) routine maintenance and weren't already charging for just about everything else in economy.

How long before they charge for seats at the gate, while we wait for another flight (delayed due to maintenance issues, again)?

I can see why AA is charging for baggage. They would probably get slapped with the same legal damages that British Airways were for their fuel surcharges. These baggage charges will not disappear with any decline in fuel prices.

What the airlines really fear is people waking up to the real cost of travel. Facing the full costs, up front, before they book could put people off, and that would be the end of some airlines. Whilst they hate their competitors, all the airlines fear that they may be the one that goes belly-up, rather than their competition.

Kevin George

So American is now going to charge to check items that TSA says you cannot carry on. The only option was to check your full size toiletries when you would be gone longer than a trial size allows. Now you will pay 30.00 rt for your first bag or buy them at your destination and throw away the unused.

I was on a very full flight over the weekend. Boarding started 30 minutes prior to departure and was 15 minutes late taking off. Seemed most of the time the new ramp agents(flight attendants) were trying to lug bags around and find places for them. You could tell they were not happy, I fully expect this to backfire when AA has to pay for the added workers comp claims the flight attendants will have.

Mayrah

I agree with David's comment inasmuch as "these baggage charges will not disappear with any decline in fuel prices."

Traditionally, any previous increases by airlines (citing one excuse or the other) have never rolled back to the original cost, even when the issue that forced the pricing hike has gone back to its previous status quo.

Adding insult to injury, appending a $15.00 charge for one suitcase, will not improve American Airlines appalling passenger relations record at the counter.

The last two trips I took with American had my luggage arrive on the next flight. Was I late in checking in either time? The answer is NO. In fact, I had checked-in online on both times the night before my flight. Plus, frankly I endeavor to get to the airport at least 1-1/2 hours before departure time to avoid the long lines at security.

Was AA's counter staff gracious, apologetic and accomodating? NO. They were rude, and had a "take it or leave attitude." The last time this happened I had purposely booked a flight that would land during day time hours because I had to drive about 75 miles north to my final destination and had only a map to guide me.

As a result of AA not loading my luggage on the same flight, I had to wait at the airport for 2.5 hours for the next flight to arrive (praying that my 1 piece of luggage would be there). When the suitcase finally arrived, dusk was setting in so, by the time I picked up the rental car and got on the highway, night was falling - real hard to try to read a map with an overhead light, heavy traffic and darkness.

Needless to say, it was quite a stressful trip with unexpected local highway detours to boot!

I do have to say that their #800 service agents are quite helpful as opposed to the ground and counter crews/personnel.

I actually pine for the TWA and Eastern Airlines days when efficient customer service was the hallmark.

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