Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Much Like A Hooker, United Airlines Adds To A La Carte Menu


Want to feel like a frequent flyer for a day and speed through the premier check in and security line, United Airlines will be happy to give you the service you should get to start with for a fee.

Airline passengers are willing to pay extra to check a bag or reserve a seat with extra legroom. Now United Airlines is betting some will pay more to join fast-track airport-security lines and qualify for priority boarding on the airplane.

For an extra $25 each way, economy-class passengers can join first- and business-class passengers and elite members of the airline's frequent-flier program in special "premier" lines at select airports, including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"This was the No. 1 service our customers said they would be interested in purchasing if we offered it," said United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski. "People who don't have the status but want to feel like they have the status for a day can buy the premier status and have access to those same lines."

The Transportation Security Administration, which operates the security checkpoints, has streamlined its systems to reduce wait times at most airports.

The average wait time at Sea-Tac's central checkpoint on a busy Monday morning, for instance, is six to seven minutes.

Still, United's surveys show some passengers are willing to pay extra for fast-track check-in and security lines as well as for the privilege of boarding the aircraft ahead of others, Urbanski said.

"A lot of our customers are business travelers and get to the airport 45 minutes in advance of their flights."

United and other airlines have been adding fees and selling new services to offset falling revenues due to higher fuel prices and declines in passenger traffic.

From the perspective of a frequent flyer on United, trust me keep the $25 and buy something for your wife instead, it's not worth it !

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