American Airlines’ latest “Express” seat fee isn’t quite as bad as a mandatory credit card fee or check-in fee, it’s another step in that direction.
There are two kinds of fees in the airline industry – the fees that are optional and really add value, like United’s economy plus, and the fees that really add almost nothing, except profits to the airline’s bottom line, like seat reservation fees and pillow and blanket fees.
With this new AA front-of-the-plane fee, you aren’t buying more legroom, you’re simply buying a seat — even potentially a middle seat — closer to the front of the plane, with easier on/off access and earlier boarding.
While no doubt this fee is subject to change, the Associated Press reported yesterday that even elite fliers would pay this surcharge, although they would have access to other “premium seats.”
(As an aside, if American Airlines really plans to charge their elites, I would expect there would be a good chance they will change their mind. Nasty emails and cut-up frequent flier cards mailed from high-dollar passengers have a way of making airlines rethink things.)
But the disturbing question here — where does it all stop?
Yes, most people prefer to sit up front instead of in the back, although a few of my clients actually ask for seats towards the back if the plane doesn’t look full, since they think they are more likely to have an empty seat next to them.
Some of these following new fees may start showing up on legacy carriers regularly. So far, some airline have some of these fees. We all know, however, that the airlines are capable of imposing fees at any time for any supposed service.
• If the first rows are pricier, why then not make any window seat not over the wing pricier, because the view is better? Various airlines already charge more exit rows and aisle seats.
• Why not charge for any seat that isn’t a middle seat. (Middle seats will become very popular.)
• Charge for overhead bin space? (Spirit is leading the way.)
• Charge for being one of the first passengers to be served a paid drink for first certain choice of your entree in first or business class. (On no! Chicken and pasta again?)
• Reading lights and air vents may come become coin-operated.
For any readers that are thinking, “Don’t give the airlines any ideas,” They seem to be perfectly capable of dreaming these things up on their own.