Dec 172012
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Nearly every airline these days is addicted to fees.

by Jim Hightower

Those who say we should run government like a business must not be frequent flyers.

Flying, which was once a fairly good experience, now amounts to being herded, harassed, barked at, and squeezed —  while being dunned every step of the way for onerous fees. Make a reservation? Do it yourself, or pay extra. Check a bag? The fee for that is so pricey that most passengers have had to turn themselves into mules, toting their full load on board — which the airlines view as a new fee opportunity, planning to charge us for storing the stuff we schlep onto the plane.

What's next — a charge to use the toilet?

Fly the Stingy Skies, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
   Stingy Skies, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib




Yes! Here's the CEO of Ryanair in Europe: "One thing we are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door." After all, mused another Ryanair exec, a toilet tax would be voluntary, since passengers have the option of not using the toilet.

Even though the airlines are in the black again and keep raising their ticket prices (three times this year alone), they still keep jacking up fees…because they can. It's free money they can simply lift out of travelers' wallets. "We're all about finding ways of raising discretionary revenue," gloated the chief of Ryanair.

Nearly every airline these days is addicted to fees, and the already huge take is growing — these add-ons will pluck $36 billion dollars from us customers this year, $4 billion more than last year.

Is there a tipping point at which consumer grumbling about these gouges turns to rebellion? A group called thinks so. Noting that airlines are making profits again, it reports that the flying public has had it up to here with fees. Delta, for one, has responded. Not by cutting fees, but by excluding from its public reports the full amount of fee revenue it takes from us.


About Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

© Copyright 2012 Jim Hightower, All rights Reserved. Written For:

  2 Responses to “The airline industry’s fee-for-all”

  1. The public will revolt? The public that can afford to fly probably won't. It may grumble, but it won't do much more. That's my guess. If it cared, it would be complaining about the entire mafia capitalist system. Those who are surviving, relatively comfortably, don't want to rock the boat or bite the hand that feeds them. Corporations know that.
    Increasing fees do a lot of damage to those barely surviving. Even a poor person can absorb a tiny fee increase – from one or two sources. But rarely do you see that happen. Multiple businesses, in our laissez-faire societies, increase their fees regularly. When a dozen businesses want a quarter or more from you and you never get raises from your uncaring boss, and you already don't earn a living wage, then you will feel it. I've never had a raise from my current employer (since 2006).
    I was just on my way home tonight, a couple days after borrowing rent money from my poor 72 yr old mother for gosh sakes, when I remembered I owed CashMoney for a payday advance. I popped in and paid the $120 I owed, which left me with $20, too little to pay my landlord the $45 I owed him and told him I'd have for him today. So I ducked into the variety store between CashMoney and my apartment and used the atm. The fee for that (at least here) had risen from $1.50 to $1.99. I know the atm owners ding me as well as my bank. You pay two fees to get at your own money. Convenience is pricey for poor people. And now I'm wondering whether my (tax evading bank has also jacked up it's fee for processing (without human input) my withdrawal.
    I work for a large, scammy security company (G4S that knows how to use it's employees – like other corporations that can screw up and/or break laws and expect to be protected because they are too big and important to be punished but can then turn around and influence elections, like persons ( I resist some of the crappy gigs that they give me as a floater security guard. For that I'm resented and, I'm sure, punished. I recently went over a week without work (necessitating my begging among family members for a bail out) because of my resistance to nasty gigs (that are unecessarily nasty due to indifference by G4S and the clients who, alone, matter to the company). I accept that punishment. My theory is that if I float long enough, I will discover a site that I can stay with and that won't make me too miserable. I don't want to ask for a site, or be given one, that I'm unfamiliar with, since it could lead to my not wanting it afterward, which surely would annoy the company. But saying 'no thanks' – I'm not licensed by G4S but by the government – to sites I am offered, but which I haven't seen, does no harm to anyone. G4S can just offer them to others.
    Which didn't help my case when I was asked to come into work and look at some permanent sites. I said I wasn't interested and I explained, clearly and honestly, why. I was told that it was 'for' me and that I could still say no. The csm (client service manager) insisted I come in. I wasn't told that I'd be asked to voluntarily drop down to part time, which I was. I was then given a paper to sign to that effect. I wasn't going to sign it, but didn't know what sort of repercussions would follow if I refused, so I signed. Then, today, it hit me. As a part timer, I no longer get the pay for statutory holidays that I used to get. Ahh. Now I see. It was 'for me'. Like a bullet. Merry Christmas Arby! (not my real name)
    Unlike the fake outrage that Nick Buckles 'endured' before the British parliamentarians, someone else also has issues with the rich, comfy, uncaring exploiters on this overheated, poisoned planet ( Someone with real power and a timetable.

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