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home : opinion : opinion July 3, 2015

1/24/2013 6:00:00 AM
Reader Letter: Airlines are 'double dipping'

A while back I wrote a letter to the editor slamming the insurance industry. I would like to add one more to the list. That is the travel industry, mainly the airlines.

They really have a racket. When you make airline reservations and pay for the ticket, you are stuck. Down the line, if something comes up and you have to change the day that you are going or coming back, they charge you $150.

That is unfair.

Sometimes things happen beyond your control. There isn't that much effort required to change a day or so. All they do is hit a few keys on the computer.

If something comes up and you can't go, they won't refund your money. They give you a voucher and you fly at another time. If you can't go at all, you are out the money.

You can purchase insurance for this type of thing. Why should you have to buy insurance? It is another way for the airlines to get more money.

Now they are charging for each bag. I have heard that they are charging for carry-on bags.

Our elected officials in Washington aren't going to do anything about it. The airlines are big business. The elected officials are for big business.

If you buy something in a store and you get home with it and you later find out you can't use it or don't like it, and you take it back to the store, they either exchange it or give your money back. As far as I am concerned the airlines should have to do the same.

Furthermore, they keep your money, then sell that seat to someone else. That is double dipping.

Ronney L. Case

Golden Valley

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anason's Nephew

I agree with Say What? If you sell a product and the client does not take possession and you refuse to refund their money and then you sell the product again you are most assuredly pulling a scam.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: A Frequent Flier

Agreed with 'Answering your Concerns' and 'pl'. I've logged a healthy 250k in 5 years (I'm 24 years old) traveling across the Atlantic and Pacific on dozens of airlines. It's an industry, and paying $400 to fly from LA to New York is a bargain. It takes an army of individuals to run an airline, and they're grossly underpaid. That guy that's flying your plane? I guarantee he's been sleep deprived and worked to the point of exhaustion because they can't afford to hire more pilots because people aren't willing to pay.

Smart people buy insurance. It's cheap, and if you're flying somewhere within the Continental US it's worth the extra $50 or so. International flights are a must, and airlines have plenty of options for travelers that are flexible on their schedule.

Personally, air travel is majestic. You're in a metal tube flying at 450mph, and you can literally be in any place in the world within 24 hours. That's amazing, and it's worth the money. There's some perspective for you.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Say What?

@ Answering Your Concerns - Part 2

"In order to fill those seats airlines will "resell" the empty space in an attempt to recoup that money. It would be nice to "refund" at least a portion of what that non-flying passenger has invested."

Now I'll be the first to admit that I am no Rocket Scientist, but if a seat has already been payed for, "what are they trying to recoup"? A nonflying passenger is the one who needs to recoup and if you don't give them a refund, "what are you trying to recoup"?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: pl .....

"Answering Concerns" is correct and as a former employee working with international airlines, let's add more facts - As of 1990, American Airlines had $20 billion tied up in planes & facilities, while people wanted to fly from Los Angeles to New York City for less than two hundred bucks. The costly time slots which airlines buy around the world for arrivals and departures can be even more expensive in event of passenger-caused delays (or, admittedly, other factors). To illustrate, even 20 years ago, if a Qantas plane pulled away from the gate 15 minutes late from LAX for Sydney, they were fined $5000. That, of course, is because another airline - Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, whoever - had paid for their own dearly-purchased, usurped, time slot. There are a number of other significant factors regarding airline costs about which the traveling public might be better informed.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Scott Farkus

If you feel like you have been manipulated, just ask the Flight Attendant for a complimentary cup of hot cocoa, and watch them squirm.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Answering Your Concerns - Part 2

Bag fees. Unfortunately, like so often in our society, the good pay for the bad. When there were no fees, a number of passengers on each plane would have more than their fair share. Fees helped. Most legacy carriers do not charge for carry on bags that fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Low cost carriers like Spirit Air have incredibly low fairs but do charge for every bag including carry ons. (They have even announced they would charge for the use of the on-board toilets). Bags are one of the most costly parts of operating an airline. They affect on-time performance (extremely important for many reasons), fuel allocation, expenditures for damage, lose or misplacement, etc.. A bag search, especially when more than one airline is involved takes many man hours and effort, not to mention the damage done to the good name of the airline.

Double dipping. Airlines use to sell just the amount of tickets it had seats on the airplane. It lost millions when those seats were flown empty and passengers were accommodated on other flights. In order to fill those seats airlines will "resell" the empty space in an attempt to recoup that money. It is called smart business in a very, very competitive industry. It would be nice to "refund" at least a portion of what that non-flying passenger has invested. However it would cost more to do so. Plus, it would encourage no-shows and cancellations. Airlines again have tried to assist in this by offering insurance.

U.S. carriers do an outstanding job flying the public. Please look into the reasons for their actions and fees before condemning them. Thank you.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Answering Your Concerns - Part 1

Okay, as an airline employee l'd like to address some of the issues in Mr. Case's letter.

Change fees are justified. An airline calculates fuel, on-board supplies and other factors by the number of seats it fills on each plane. Hopping passengers cause havoc with this planning. Also there must be a cost simply to discourage changes. Emergencies happen. However, you wouldn't believe what some call emergencies. How does an airline fairly handle claims of emergencies? Prior to change fees changes were made constantly tying up reservation lines when an airline could be making a sell to keep the airline flying. The amount might be up for discussion, but the reason for these fees are "fair." A side note every time change fees are raised, "emergencies” seem to go down. Curious how fee amounts impact human actions.

Now as far as canceling altogether - U.S. carriers are very generous in offering vouchers for future travel. There is nothing that says they have to. And many carriers around the world say, "You don't fly when you are scheduled to, that's not our problem." Many foreign airlines don't even offer vouchers or changes. Not to sound heartless however, a passenger is in essence contracting with an airline to take them from Point A to Point B at a specific time. The airline is upholding its end of the bargain. A no-show passenger isn't. A smart passenger does buy insurance.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: David Gaither

@Ronney L. Case

Actually, I think that the airlines that allow you to pick and choose which things you are willing to pay for is actually making air travel cheaper than if they did not give a traveler choices.

For example, if the fee for a checked bag is cheaper than a carryon, then you could choose to go that way and save some money. If we leave it up to the airlines to factor into the ticket price, all of the possible choices we might want, then some of us would surely be paying for choices we could do without.

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