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Flying the Not-So-Friendly Sky!

November 23, 2009

Having recently flown to California and back to Boise, I was somewhat surprised at fare and the baggage fees.  Obviously, it had been quite some time since I last flew the used-to-be friendly sky. It was on my return flight that I became rather peeved at how passengers are being treated.  I flew Delta Airlines departing from the Santa Ana Airport to Salt Lake City.  From Salt Lake, I then flew to Boise.  The problem occurred when the plane from Santa Ana  departed late.  Which, of course, meant that the plane’s arrival to Salt Lake was also late.  According to a flight attendant, the pilot had called ahead to Salt Lake to alert them of the plane’s late departure.  We arrived at Salt Lake Airport with perhaps 15 minutes until the connecting flight to Boise was to depart.  Jogging / power walking quickly to the departure gate, we learned that the Gate Attendant had decided to let the departing flight leave 5 minutes early.  And what was amazing is that there were approximately 10 people left behind.  I’m still not understanding how the Gate Attendant in Salt Lake did not notice there were TEN people missing …….When deciding to write a post about this event, I did a search on Delta Airlines and early departures.  I found a Delta consumer affairs site, which after reading some of the complaints, made mine seem largely insignificant.  So, this post has shifted to the commercial airline industry and their inventive surcharges / fees. I remember in 2008, airlines experienced a fuel price surge.  During this time, Southwest Airlines tacked on a $30.00 surcharge.  I learned that whether a surcharge will eventually be discontinued depends, in part, of how quickly the other airlines match the original airline’s increase(s).   And the public is familiar that the global crude oil prices have increased, along with the increase of aviation turbine fuel (AFT).  So perhaps airlines are a struggling industry, barely able to break even?As of October 26, 2009, Charlie Mills wrote that the fare increases of United Airlines, U.S. Airways, American Airlines, Delta and Continental is the fifth increase in the United States this year.  And now, there are “Peak Travel Day” surcharges, baggage fees, and other fees. For example, according to Independent Traveler ,  making telephone reservations for flights can now range from $5.00 (Northwest Airlines) to $25.00 (Delta).  Air Canada now charges for Customer Service:  One can expect to pay an extra $25.00 – $35.00 for “speedy access” to “specially trained” booking agents.  A video on / Travel, “More Fees Await Travelers,” features Genevieve Shaw Brown of Travelocity.  Ms. Brown used the phrase “a la carte pricing” for items such as baggage and blankets.  It seems that airlines are increasing costs due to “ramping up staff” on “heavy days” (defined as the 41 days between Thanksgiving and Memorial day).  Hence, traveling on heavy days will incur a $10.00 surcharge.  On a positive note, Ms. Brown mentioned that hotel prices are dropping and one can save $5.00 when booking their flight(s) online.   Thinking more about the Peak Travel Days, I found a great website by Rick Seaney.  His article, “Peak Travel Day” warns of a new $50.00 surcharge for the day after the Super Bowl (Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines).  This is a 1-way surcharge to travel to most cities on Monday, February 8, 2010. However, be forewarned that the 1-way surcharge now extends for a total of 30 days, into 2010. Holiday surcharges, typically $20.00 one-way, are now applied to fares booked for November 29 – 30 2009, December 19, 26 – 27 2009, and January 2 – 3, 2010.  I’ve inserted one of Rick’s many charts, “When to Fly Calendar – Christmas 2009,” along with his “Pick A Day Surcharge” chart.  The “Pick A Day Surcharge” chart shows details of the day-after-Super Bowl surcharge, as well as other Peak Travel dates (Delta and Northwest Airlines).  For those taking to the sky, you may take a look at his website for some great information regarding the commercial airline industry.  The information is usually updated throughout the day.  Happy flying!          



Pick A Day Surchage


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