Rising fuel costs are forcing airlines to add fees to checked bags, in-flight beverages and frequent flyer rewards at a pace that’s difficult to track. At the same time, there is some good news that’s getting lost in all the bad press. So here’s a quick look at what’s going on:
The bad news:
Airlines continue to charge fees on amenities passengers once took for granted. United Airlines and American Airlines will charge $14 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second. JetBlue is charging $25 for the second checked bag and Spirit is charging $20-25 for checked bags. US Airways no longer serves free snacks and will begin charging travelers $2 for non-alcoholic beverages. Starting in October, United will require minimum stays depending on the location, ticket price and flight length. Delta’s Frequent Flyer Rewards members may be charged up to $50 in fuel surcharges; American Airlines has begun charging a $5 fee to book frequent flyer tickets.
The good news:
Southwest just finished its 69th consecutive quarter of profitability and announced it will not charge passengers to check luggage. And, while other airlines are cutting routes to major destinations, Southwest is adding service between Denver and Orange County, Calif.; Ft. Lauderdale and Las Vegas; and Ft. Myers and St. Louis, Mo. Discounted airfare is available for groups of 10 or more, and travel bookers will receive a free ticket for every 40 passengers.
Delta Airlines is attempting to make flights more fun with new Richard Tyler steward uniforms and Tequila Herradura margaritas. But, the best news for corporate travel bookers is that groups of 10 or more will receive up to 60 percent off economy class rates on Delta flights.