Saturday, October 4, 2008

American Airline to Start A La Carte Pricing For Flights

In an effort to remain dead last in customer satisfaction ratings, American Airlines has decided that tacking on fees to everything that moves on its airline is the best way to go. The hope from American's CEO is drive what remaining passengers the customer still has to either another airline or to stop flying completely, according the recent passenger traffic statistics it seems to be working well.

The idea of paying a single, simple fare to fly on an airliner is becoming as quaint as stewardesses in short skirts.

American Airlines is about to accelerate the trend of breaking the cost of a trip into an airfare plus many smaller fees.

Starting next year, American, which led a stampede by U.S. carriers to charge customers for checking even a single suitcase, plans to imitate the a la carte pricing structure pioneered by Air Canada, airline officials say. There are likely to be a few basic fare plans, and travelers can pick additional services — for a fee.

Fans of "unbundling," as it's called, say it gives travelers lower base fares with the option of paying for extras that they really want, from beverages to blankets.

Some travelers are wary, however, and suspect the airlines are just trying to chisel them a few bucks at a time.

Phone and cable companies have been using this pricing approach for years to offer extras like premium channels and pay-per-view events. Now airlines see unbundling as a way to boost revenue and defray sky-high prices for jet fuel. In recent months they have added and enlarged charges for fuel, checked baggage, changing flights, upgrading from coach and other services.

There may be no going back to all-inclusive fares, even with the recent decline in fuel prices.

"We as an industry have opted to not just raise (ticket) prices but to raise prices and change the fee structure," said Daniel Garton, American Airlines' executive vice president of marketing. Without fees to offset rising costs, "you're not going to be talking about fees — you're going to be talking about lost service . . . being able to have a flight to San Diego," he said.

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kumagcow said...

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