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They’ve redefined an airline ticket – it’s time to fix that

Stuart Jenner/Shutterstock

OK, here’s an easy question: What’s an airline ticket?

“What do we get?” asks HJ Pluhar, a retired manager from Alpharetta, Ga. “Is it transportation? Is it a seat? What does a ticket buy?”

That’s not so easy, on second thought.

The definition of an airfare is changing. Today’s tickets are routinely stripped of the basics, including checked luggage, food, drinks, reservations, the ability to make itinerary changes — even the ability to bring a carry-on bag.

By quietly rewriting what’s in a ticket, airlines have been able to legally rake in billions — a record $2.8 billion in ticket change fees last year alone — helping propel most of the industry to a profit. At the same time, air carriers can make the outrageous claim that their fares have never been lower, which is probably true if you accept their narrow definition of “ticket.”

But air travelers feel duped. In a recent poll, a vast majority of air travelers said once you factor in all the fees, flying costs more than they expected, with 55 percent saying it costs “somewhat” more and 44 percent complaining that it costs “a lot” more than they thought it would.

So perhaps a better question is, what should a ticket look like?

The airline industry is pushing to separate even more fees from its tickets, backing a proposed law in Congress called the Airfare Transparency Bill of 2014. It would allow them to advertise a ticket price, minus taxes and mandatory fees, making fares look like an unbelievable bargain.

Consumer advocates say that’s the last straw. Airlines have managed to turn the average ticket into an abomination that no air traveler from a generation ago would recognize, but omitting the taxes is a step too far.

The government appears to agree. Under a proposed Transportation Department rulemaking released last Wednesday, regulators would effectively define a ticket to include two checked bags, one carry-on item, and advance seat selection. The proposed rule will require all ticket agents and airlines to display these basics at the point in which fares are being compared.

But how about air travelers? In the survey, which was conducted on behalf of USA Today by the online polling company SurveyMonkey, passengers suggest the fare word-games have gone too far as well. Asked to rank the most important components of an airline ticket, 94 percent said they wanted the advertised fare to include all taxes and mandatory fees. It was closely followed by the ability to reserve a seat (91 percent) the ability to carry a bag (90 percent) and access to a bathroom (87 percent).

Separating seating option and baggage fees isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, according to Carol Margolis, author of the book “Business Travel Success.” The problem is what airlines have done with their fares once they’re unbundled. Instead of quoting a low, and unbookable, rate, airlines should develop technology that allows passengers to choose the amenities they want and then compare the same type of fares between carriers.

“That would allow airfares to be compared apples to apples,” she says.

The reality is far different, she adds. Her mother and aunts recently flew on Spirit Airlines and were “so nickel-and-dimed by fees that I’m sure they’ll never fly Spirit again.” Had their booking system included a menu system, they would have known what to expect.

“Customers are constantly being tricked,” agrees Steve Rushing, a Washington attorney. He’s also unhappy with Spirit Airlines, where customers, lured by its cheap fares, may not be aware that their standard carry-on bag may cost up to $100.

“I’ve known people who’ve showed up at the airport lacking a seat assignment, only to be charged additional fees,” he says. “The seat wasn’t included in the base price they paid.”

Spirit knows its passengers sometimes feel surprised by its fees, and as part of a brand overhaul recently pledged to clarify its policies before passengers arrive at the airport.

Telling customers what they mean by “ticket” would certainly be a good start. Today, you can’t easily determine what is — and isn’t — included in your fare unless you do a lot of homework. Peeling away essential features of a ticket may win high marks from investors and industry apologists, but passengers hate it. That should be enough for the Transportation Department to step in and put an end to this nonsense.

If only they would.

Which definition of airline ticket do you like better?

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How to keep airlines honest about their tickets

✓ Book a ticket from an airline that doesn’t aggressively “unbundle” its fares. For example, JetBlue and Southwest still include checked bags in their ticket prices.

✓ Let the Transportation Department know what you think of its proposed new airfare rules. Go to Regulations.gov and search for rulemaking DOT-OST-2014-0056.

✓ Tell airlines what you think of their nickel and diming. By simply paying the fee and remaining quiet, you are quietly endorsing these fees.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • shannonfla

    If it’s something the airline won’t let you board with before traveling, like a Spirit seat assignment, then it should definitely be part of a final ticket price, not a surprise at the airport. The other stuff is not necessary to travel, Ike food, sitting together or baggage, so I can see why that is okay to unbundled.

  • AJPeabody

    Basic: If I have to pay it, no matter what, no way out, it’s part of the price and must not be left out of the ticket price. I don’t care if it’s tax, fuel, a resort fee, CEO bonus surcharge, or anything else they want to invent. If I am required to pay it, it’s part of the ticket price.

    What I want: When searching or researching, I choose the my options, and the nice computer calculates it in. If I want non-refundable economy, non-stop, one checked bag, one carry-on, a meal, a drink, and a reserved seat on an aisle, then the computer accesses the applicable fees, adds in the basic ticket (see above), and uses that number for my session. Don’t let them say they can’t do it, since they certainly do know how to do it when I want to click “Buy.”

    Right now they stay just this side of fraudulence. It’s time to move back to something that resembles the truth.

  • TonyA_says

    Aha, a double edged sword …

    What’s in a ticket price?
    It is a combination (sum) of at least 3 components:
    Ticket price = Base Fare + Gov’t Taxes & Fees + Airline Fees

    Total Base Fare = Base Fare + Surcharges (Q) that goes to the airlines.

    Total Government Taxes and Fees = All taxes and airport fees that go to the Government(s).

    Total Airline Fees = Carrier Imposed (Service Fees), Ticketing Fees, Optional Fees, etc. that goes to the airlines.

    Over some time, airlines have added more and more fees for themselves instead of increasing the base fare.
    Unbundling means keeping the base fare low and making up the difference in fees, usually in optional (ancillary) fees.
    In the many countries, including the USA, the government levies a tax on the TOTAL BASE FARE only. In the USA the domestic ticket tax is 7.5% of the total base fare; and each flight segment is also taxed $4. Therefore, if airlines move back their fees to the base fare, passengers will pay more tax. This might be the government’s hidden agenda.

    Disclosing the TOTAL COST OF THE TICKET is good but as you can see it can get confusing since Baggage, Seat Pre-assignment, Carry Ons, Boarding Pass printing, etc. can be defined as OPTIONAL (Ancillary) Fees.

  • TonyA_says

    I think you are referring to printing a boarding pass.

    If you don’t check in online, our kiosks at the airport are self-serve
    and easy to use. Transactions at the airport kiosks and online don’t
    require the service of an agent, which will save you some money.
    Customer Service Agents are available at the airport; however, you may
    wait longer at our check-in counters and there is a charge of $10 to
    print each boarding pass
    .

    It is possible to fly without checked luggage or a pre-assigned seat (since one will be assigned for you free is you do not pre-select). However it is not possible to fly without a boarding pass. So I do not understand why the government allows Spirit to charge for a boarding pass.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Chris E.
    I went to regulations dotgov and searched for rulemaking DOT-OST-2014-0056.
    Where does it mention that

    . Under a proposed Transportation Department rulemaking released last Wednesday, regulators would effectively define a ticket to include two checked bags, one carry-on item, and advance seat selection.

    I think you are misinterpreting this. All the proposed rule would do is require the airlines to disclose the ff. ANCILLARY fees – 1st bag and 2nd bag check in fees, carry on fee and pre-assigned seat fee. Mere disclosing of a fee does not mean these items must or will be included in the base price of a ticket. The customer still has to do the math himself.

    What I was suggesting (last week) was the Gov’t. to require airlines to post, offer, and sell an ALL INCLUSIVE TICKET PRICE (inclusive of one check bag, carry on, airport printed boarding pass and pre-assigned seating) as a fare option with a clear Family Friendly label (like organic veggies). Hence, consumers can look for this label and compare only similar products (by using required filters).

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    That’s my interpretation — that DOT is suggesting these ancillaries should come standard with every ticket. Not unlike a car coming with wheels and a windshield. But that’s just how I read it.

  • Fishplate

    From reading Chris’ columns over the years, it’s not clear what’s included in a ticket – including the right to be on the airplane when it departs.

  • Fishplate

    “So I do not understand why the government allows Spirit to charge for a boarding pass.”

    They aren’t charging for a boarding pass – they are charging for the labor necessary to have someone else print it for you. Free options are readily available.

  • TonyA_says

    Edited to expand what the DOT said …

    Under both co-proposals, the fee information disclosed to consumers for a carry-on bag, the first and second checked bag, and advance seat assignment would need to be expressed as specific charges. Airlines would be required to disclose customer-specific fees for these services to the extent the customer provides identifying information, and if the customer does not provide that information, must disclose itinerary-specific fees. Ticket agents would be required to disclose itinerary-specific fees for these services. Ticket agents may also arrange/negotiate with the airlines to obtain data that would enable them to give customer-specific fees for basic ancillary services. “Customer-specific” refers to variations in fees that depend on, for example, the passenger type (e.g., military), frequent flyer status, method of payment, geography, travel dates, cabin (e.g., first class, economy), ticketed fare (e.g., full fare ticket—Y class), and, in the case of advance seat assignment, the particular seat on the aircraft if different seats on that flight entail different charges. In other words, the response to a specific flight itinerary search request by a consumer on a carrier’s Web site would need to display next to the fare the actual fee to that consumer for his or her carry-on bag, first and second checked bags, and advance seat assignment. Nothing in this proposal would require carriers to compel consumers to provide the passenger-specific details before searching for airfare. Providing such details before conducting a search should be an option and not a requirement for consumers. We note that many carriers already offer seat maps during the online booking process on their Web site that permit consumers to obtain a seat assignment at that time and that disclose the charge for each seat. This process would comply with the proposed rule as long as there is a statement adjacent to the fare on the first screen where an itinerary-specific fare is displayed that informs the consumer that there are fees for advance seat assignments and direct links to the seat map

    Sorry Chris but that is not correct. In my opinion, mere disclosure is NOT GOOD ENOUGH for most Americans especially those traveling as families.

    I would like the DOT to require the airlines to create FAMILY FRIENDLY FARES (labelled FF or something like it ) which includes 1 x 50 lbs checked in luggage, 1 carry on, boarding pass printing at airport, and advance seat reservation as part of the fare.
    Furthermore, any airline and vendor MUST post these FF fares online and allow buyers to filter their view to ONLY display FF fares.
    This way it is easy for Americans who wish to fly with these basic amenities to compare apples vs apples.

  • TonyA_says

    I disagree. Just because a printer is readily available to the passenger does not mean boarding pass printing responsibility is moved to or pushed to the passenger. In fact there is a security flaw in doing so.

    Boarding Pass printing is a part of the airlines departure control system (DCS) and should be part of the cost of a ticket. While you can save the airline money by doing OLCI and printing your own boarding pass, that still does not absolve the airline to perform this usual task itself as part of their basic responsibilities.

  • SoBeSparky

    Re-regulating the airline industry will not solve this problem, especially since customer expectations have changed.

    Yes, there should be a standard definition of what a ticket guarantees. But to include a checked bag and reserved seat is undue regulation which will increase ticket prices. (The revenues lost from checked bags and prime seats must be made up somewhere. Cutting costs are pretty much out of the question.) Let the consumer choose how much she or he buys, from checked bags and aisle seats to meals and VIP transfer service. The passenger today expects to be transported while sitting in a seat, and not much more. Why include the extras when the passenger may not need them?

  • MarkKelling

    I have to agree with Tony. The proposals state that the cost of those items must be disclosed as specific (i.e. easily identifiable) items. It does not state the items must be included in the ticket. Maybe it is just a different interpretation of the words, but to me disclose does not mean include.

  • MarkKelling

    But the definition of all inclusive varies from airline to airline. Some already include a checked bag or two with every ticket sold. Only some charge for carry on bags. Some already include seat assignments. Southwest does not pre assign seats for anyone so how would that be reflected in the offered prices? And if you are a Frequent Flyer and rank high enough with a specific airline, you don’t pay extra for any of these things anyway. All of these factors skew the prices a customer actually pays, sometimes dramatically, so I’m not sure how the airlines could provide a price that would accurately reflect this definition of all inclusive.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s the problem :-) US consumers are easily confused with all these airfare pricing schemes.
    That’s why I am suggesting the gov’t create a standard definition of a “bundled” inclusive fare. The fare should include one checked bag, one carry on, a boarding pass and an advance seat assignment (if the airline has assigned seating).
    I don’t think the gov’t should force Southwest to change their seating scheme since no one needs to pay for seat assignments at WN.
    Elite passengers can still buy UNBUNDLED fares since airlines can continue to offer them.
    Essentially, I want Congress to require that an airline must also have BUNDLED (Inclusive) fares if they offer UNBUNDLED fares for the same fare class.

  • MarkKelling

    Doesn’t AA already do something like that with their “Choice” options? I don’t fly AA so I’m not sure of all the details, but you choose the various levels of Choice and it includes checked bags priority boarding and so on. I wonder what their success rate is with people buying the higher levels of Choice options?

  • TonyA_says

    Yes it has a built-in change fee, too, if I am not mistaken.
    (EDITED: See below)
    I am not too concerned about the success rate of such an inclusive fare.
    I just want to give the public what they are asking for – a bundled rate, so they will stop bitching and moaning :-)
    But IMO, some won’t stop complaining even if the ticket is FREE.

    AA’s choice are coded in FARE LEVEL!
    This is the right way to go.

    Choice: The lowest fare available in the Main Cabin that gives customers the flexibility to purchase additional products a la carte.
    Choice includes pre-reserved seating and earning AAdvantage® Miles. Choice also offers the option to select other individual travel benefits, such as First to Board, or Admirals Club.
    ADT passenger type.
    Fare basis codes will end with either 1, 3 or 5.
    Example: SD14ERD1, KA0EVRD3, HA00ERM5.
    Fares are displayed in a Normal Excursion (NLX) fare quote.

    Choice Essential: One checked bag (third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld® elite members; fourth checked bag for AAdvantage Executive Platinum and oneworld® Emerald members) and Group 1 Boarding for an additional cost each way.

    PRO passenger type.
    Fare basis codes will end with either 2, 4 or 6.

    Example: SD14ERD2, KA0EVRD4, HA00ERM6.

    Fares are displayed in a Promotional (PM) fare quote.

    Choice Plus: No change fee, one checked bag (third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld elite customers; fourth checked bag for AAdvantage Executive Platinum and oneworld® Emerald members), Group 1 Boarding, 50 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus, Same-Day Flight Change, Same-Day Standby, and a premium beverage, such as an alcoholic beverage onboard for an additional cost each way.

    TIM passenger type.
    Fare basis codes will end with either 7, 8 or 9.

    Example: SD14ERD7, KA0EVRD8, HA00ERM9.

    Fares are displayed in a Promotional (PM) fare quote.

  • bodega3

    Ever since I started in the business, 3 decades ago, an airline ticket never guaranteed a seat assignment. Has it ever?

  • Cybrsk8r

    I think this might give a huge lift to a site like Kayak which could allow customers to search for tickets with specific options. There could be check boxes for baggage, exit row seats, etc. Then, when the search results are displayed, the TOTAL price for all flights, including the fees for all options, and all taxes and fees, could be displayed. This should allow for comparison shopping, which the airlines apparently don’t want their customers to do.

  • $16635417

    I’ve never had a ticket guarantee a seat assignment. Even before seat fees were unbundled, there were many occasions all seats available for pre-reserving were reserved and I had to get my seat assignment at the gate.

  • fshaff

    I can just see some airlines (Spirit or Allegiant?) advertising trips for FREE, and then adding on all their fees, making the trip in the hundreds of $$$$! Very deceptive advertising.

  • TonyA_says

    Guaranteed a seat assignment, NEVER, but that is NOT THE ISSUE.
    The issue is CHARGING for advanced seat assignment.
    These are 2 different things.

  • $16635417

    Nope. Not under current rules.

  • bodega3

    I am talking about time before you and I ever started flying. Did an airline ticket ever guarantee a reserved seat? I don’t know the history of something like this.

  • $16635417

    I recall as a kid they had little stickers on your boarding pass. The agent at the gate had a sheet with stickers and assigned seats as you walked up to the podium.

  • bodega3

    Except that one of the posts here said that the ticket should include a seat assignment.

  • bodega3

    Ah but that is different than when you purchase the ticket, as that is at the airport.

  • TonyA_says

    Even if they can manage to make a $1 Fare and charge a mandatory fee for a boarding pass, I bet a much stronger Gov’t Agency like the IRS will be shutting that idea down. The gov’t wants its 7.5% of the fare, period.

  • Miami510

    I’m with Christopher on this, and his example of expecting wheels, windshield, and a motor when considering a car price is apt. It is my opinion that the airline industry’s opposition to an all-inclusive fair is both an attempt to deceive the public and surreptitiously increase the components to amplify the final cost.

    Purchasing services from an industry which receives great benefits from the government at taxpayer’s expense** ought not be able to make the purchase of a ticket like buying a camel in the souk.

    ** The control of all air traffic is a very costly service which is not afforded to boating, rail, or road traffic.

  • TonyA_says

    They mean the ability to request a pre-assigned seat. That’s always been the meaning of that and nothing else.

  • bodega3

    I find it interesting that certain travel writers want some sort of chart for airline tickets, yet I don’t hear that about hotel comparison charts. If you are traveling to
    SEA, do you expect to see all hotels on a chart for the dates you need accommodations, listing all the amenties for comparison so you can make the best choice? Same with rental cars? What about activities? Should there be a chart so tourists can make a better decision on what activity to book that gives them the best bang for their buck?

  • bodega3

    Maybe so, but that isn’t how I read the request for what is included in the price of a ticket.

  • TonyA_says

    I think we need to be careful here. Does the DOT have the power to compel airlines to include checked luggage in their fares? IMO, no. I don’t think Congress gave them that power.
    All we are talking about here is DECEPTIVE advertising, DOT has the power to make rules regarding that.
    If we want to compel airlines to include baggage, etc. as mandatory to a base fare then maybe CONGRESS has to create law about it.

  • bodega3

    We have the Coast Guard and it’s auxiliary for boating. We have police, sheriff and highway patrols for roads, so we are also paying for those when we travel.

  • TonyA_says

    He he he, there is no DOT (T for Transportation) for hotels, that’s why :-)
    Maybe the FTC can do something about it when hotel rooms are sold across state lines.

  • TonyA_says

    Well they are dreaming :-)

  • bodega3

    I just find it interesting that for this one item that can be sold online, people want so much to be provided that they don’t expect from any other purchase. This is something the carriers have caused themselves and why we (the TA’s) are seeing an incentive for us to get back at selling their tickets as Rep’s have been telling us DIY’ers are a pain!

  • TonyA_says

    Be careful what you ask for, that is where we are going. Personalized Pricing.

  • $16635417

    Airlines cannot advertise a ticket for free.

    Right now, because of the government’s fees, airline are unable to advertise for free even if they wanted to.

  • bodega3

    That is the problem with DIY’ers. The don’t understand, don’t care to understand. Make it simple for them is all they care about. With that said, I am for getting back to checked luggage being made to be part of your flight. That is a basic in travel.

  • TonyA_says

    Someone’s demand for TRANSPARENCY is another man’s fortune in TECHNOLOGY.
    Maybe buried deep behind these noisy people is a well-funded tech venture that supposedly has the “solution”.
    You never know what is driving these things.

  • TonyA_says

    Actually I’m surprised the airlines can keep on playing around with those YQ/ YR fees. When the gov’t decides to tax INTL tickets like domestic tickets (based on fare paid) and convert the departure/arrival tax as a DHS fee, maybe YQ/YR will end :-)
    Is anyone in Washington listening? Maybe this is a faster way to raise money for FAA’s NEXTGEN and to improve our lousy airports.

  • TonyA_says

    Well many old passengers are pissed off since they lost the following:
    (a) decent seat pitch and width
    (b) free checked baggage and/or carry on
    (c) free advanced seating reservation
    (d) airport boarding pass printing (i.e. Spirit)
    (e) meals and drinks
    (f) anything else I forgot to mention

    These were caused by airlines maximizing airplane capacity and profitability. Because they are pissed off, politicians are happy :-)

  • bodega3

    (f)onboard entertainment

  • TonyA_says

    Don’t know about you but when I travel I get more pissed off about the behavior of people (fellow travelers), the bad conditions in hotels, reckless drivers, heavy traffic, potholes and poor road signage, etc. more than the crappy service of the airline. But the whole idea of traveling is NOT to get pissed off at all these things so you can enjoy traveling. We need to fool ourselves a little once in a while.

  • TonyA_says

    You want the airlines and the OTAs to tell you the whole truth? Huh. Get real, that won’t happen :-)
    This is a GAME. Better get used to playing it well.

  • Miami510

    It’s true that the Coast Guard and NOAA are aids to boating, but that’s a service directly to the public which supports those activities through taxation. The same applies to many government services, such as bodega mentions; police, sheriff and highway patrols. But as with the Coast Guard, those are service directly to the public… there’s no commercial intermediary using the services. In the case of airlines, it is a direct service to an industry which is selling their services; without which they would have to make the arrangements for air traffic themselves.

    Sadly, all this discussion may be for naught, when the airline lobbyists ply Congress with funds for their reelection.

  • bodega3

    BTW Chris, I noticed that you mentioned Jet Blue as a better carrier to look at. I was looking for a one way ticket to SYR and B6 came is lowest. Except, then to get an advance seat assignment from SFO to JFK cost an additional $99 and an additional $15 for one from JFK to SYR. With all that they cost the same as a one way on UA which doesn’t charge for a seat assignment and if you have their credit card that gives you the free checked luggage, UA was lower over all in price.

  • bodega3

    I am not sure I understand your comment on commercial intermediary but I’ll take a stab at what I think you mean. Cruise lines use Coast Guard service. Private shipping companies do to. Fire services, also do. Coast Guard requires pilots on large ships to enter many US ports.

  • bodega3

    That is why a company like Kayak is out there. But I don’t understand the need for only one industry to HAVE to provide these charts over any other.

  • Miami510

    I didn’t make myself clear.
    Most government services are directly to the individual citizen. Example: If I get into trouble while sailing and call for help, the Coast Guard will come to my rescue. It’s also true, they give the same service to a ferry boat that is transporting the public, but
    that is minimal compared to what is provided for the airline industry. Air traffic controls allow the airline industry to function. Airlines charge us for their transportation services and would be unable to do so without the government help. While the safety aspect is a benefit to the public, the direct benefit is the airlines.

    By the way, there are over 26,000 people who work just on air traffic for the FAA.

  • bodega3

    You might want to look up what the CG does and oversees. I think you will be surprised on how much of our commercial shipping can’t be done with them, all in the name of safety, just like air traffic controllers.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    But Shannon makes a good point. You can easily obtain a boarding pass and no cost to you through an infrastructure provided for an maintained by Spirit, i.e. its online system, or through your travel agent, etc.

    The economic rational is to distinguish passengers whose behavior saves the company money from those which do not. Would you feel better if customers who printed out their own boarding passes received a $10 off their ticket prices?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Maximizing profitability is about giving the customer what they are willing to pay for. As long as customer’s shop on price that’s what we get. It’s the commoditization of air travel. When items or services are perceived as indistinguishable, the consumer will shop solely on price, and the seller will seek to sell at the lowest price possible and reduce its costs as much as possible.

    Curiously, traveler’s perceive a difference among First and Business class travel. As such, the product is not commoditized at all.

  • bodega3

    You can only obtain a boarding pass through your TA if you booked the ticket via the TA. Also, you can’t get a discount on your current ticket by issuing your own boarding pass, as the ticket must have been issued and their is a time frame on when boarding passes may be obtained. I find it offensive that so much is placed on the traveler by the carrier now and yet no true savings are found as stated they would be when it all got set in place.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are infinitely more lodging options that there are flight options. Thus it’s fundamentally a buyer’s market.

  • bodega3

    IMHO it has gone from giving the passenger what they want, to what the carriers can now make money on. Fares are not lower due to the luggage fees. Fares are not lower due to no meal service. Fares are not lower due to onboard entertainment.

  • bodega3

    I have to think about that one, as you don’t see all flight options online that I see in the GDS.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Air Travel is often one of the most complicated consumer purchase that one makes, comparable to any consumer financial transaction. As such, disclosure requirements will be accordingly more stringent.

  • bodega3

    If they put the fare rules on the chart, then I would agree. But all DIY’ers want to see are amenities and pricing.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Consider a major market like Los Angeles. Last time I checked there were 75ish hotels/motels that were considered airport hotels. I suspect, but have not checked, that you would be hard pressed to find 75 different carriers from Point A to Point B.

    One major difference is that a carrier doesn’t have to compete against itself. Delta is Delta is Delta. Always the same rules. But the Marriott by SFO is different from the one in San Mateo, which is different from the one’s in Union Square.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I can’t speak about the lower fares, but it’s about what the passenger will pay for. You remember MRTC. Passengers didn’t want to pay for it, so it disappeared.

    I totally get how travel sucks. But if we are not willing to pay for better, then that’s on us.

    If passengers viewed hotels in the same way, we’d have three levels of hotels: Motel 6, Sheraton/Marriott/Hilton, and Ritz Carlton/Four Seasons. If we are only willing to pay for the Motel 6, we can’t expect to get a Holiday Inn.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Dang – all I need to do is to drive into Omaha or Lincoln and find reckless drivers, heavy traffic, potholes and poor road signage. Staying out of those two cities, I can find everything but the heavy traffic. :)

  • LFH0

    I completely agree with the idea that a “ticket” price should include all mandatory charges imposed by the carrier (I’m ambivalent about government charges being included or not). Additional charges that are truly optional should not be included (though each option should be disclosed before starting a booking). But I really don’t like the idea that the government impose requirements for carriers to advertise specific combinations that might fit a particular demographic (e.g., families), for that merely favors one group of travelers over another. People are able to order in a restaurant–notwithstanding each person in the party orders something different–because all of the prices are stated and diners simply add up the items ordered. Provide information, let consumers decide what they need and want, and allow them to make informed choices.

  • LFH0

    I’ve never really understood the concept of a “boarding pass” as something separate from the “ticket” that evidences a right to transportation. To me, a “boarding pass” is simply something that a carrier uses for its own convenience to temporarily show at a quick glance who possesses a right to transportation to board a particular vehicle. In the case of most intercity bus carriers and Amtrak at most stations, a “boarding pass” is not necessary, probably because the ticket stock is simple enough for the person lifting the ticket to quickly gauge its validity. When looking at, for example, the Spirit contract of carriage, it states that “[c]ustomers with confirmed reservations will be entitled to air transportation between airports of origin and destination,” without conditioning that right to transportation on, or otherwise referencing, a boarding pass. My recollection of the “old days” is that a little sicker with a seat assignment would be placed on the ticket envelope, perhaps with some scrawled text, and that would constitute the “boarding pass” (recall Helen Hayes in “Airport”) . . . a mere convenience for the carrier. It seems to be more tradition and expectation than a necessity. So is a “boarding pass” really necessary to fly, or is it just a practical “necessity” these days?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Actually, there’s something like that in a couple of the search engines I use when I’m looking up a place to stay. Rating, “free” parking, “free” wi-fi, breakfast – those kinds of filters. Then I get the results and then I start checking into the various offerings. I can start with a blank slate, filter to what’s important and then make some better choices based on my results. I create my own chart as I go along.

    I tailor my filters based on general knowledge of where I’m going and the reason for my going. For example, If I’m staying in Manhattan, I would never use a “free” parking filter.

    Going to the Virginia and DC area in October, so I’m going to have to pull out my resources again sometime soon, so if you’d like, I’ll let you know what I use and how useful it was. It’s been helpful in the past and if there’s a cost for an amenity, I can say to myself, “Yes, but it would have cost $x at that other hotel and it didn’t have the amenities/location/service of this hotel.” Or, vice versa, in which case I make a note never to stay in that place again!

  • TonyA_says

    Think of boarding pass as boarding control.
    Who shall board an airplane?
    Even “ticketless” carriers and free-seating carriers (i.e. Southwest) issue some kind of boarding pass.
    For trains that allow tickets to be bought inside (already boarded) then you don’t need a boarding pass.
    My complaint here is when some airlines charge for it (when it is printed in the airport).

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Not all of us. I replied to a slightly older comment of yours about a trip I’m making this fall. I ended up booking on . . . WN. Yep, after I whined about it on other recent posts.

    Why? I added $25/ticket per person so I can have Early Bird seating to the displayed price. The trip is in two short hops, with no plane change, so we can get off the plane, restore circulation, and return to our original places (thanks Mark Kelling!). The timing is right, both to and from DCA. And, I can pack extra shoes in checked baggage, because the vagabond look just doesn’t cut it when I tour the Capitol. :-)

    My other preferred flight was on Delta. (Lots of AA flights – I read too much Elliott to have booked there!) I would have had to have paid extra for a comfortable seat on a nonstop flight and again, extra for checking a piece of baggage. The costs (sans “comfy” seat) was a little more, but not much more on Delta vs. WN. In this case, the wonderful flight attendants and generally cheerful nature of our fellow travelers on WN won out.

    Kind of like flying Midwest, before it went away. And my husband and I DID pay the extra to fly Midwest.

  • TonyA_says

    I still have to disagree because you cannot fly or get in without a boarding pass. Hence it should be part of the fare.
    Added: We must very careful. Allowing absolute unbundling will lead to exactly IATA 787 New Distribution Capability.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I believe CE is asking for input on that topic, on one of his Facebook posts.

  • TonyA_says

    It’s now more room on SOME coach seats (not throughout coach) since, today, you have AA Main Cabin Extra.
    But that is not today’s topic of discussion since Elliott is asking what should be included in a ticket (or fare)?
    I actually find this topic truly bizarre since it only has to do with SHOPPING experience. Some people are smart and can figure out the airline game. Some people want the government to help them figure it out :-) Yeah, right.
    What I would like to see more is improvement on the actual FLYING experience. The government is absent in the discussion about humane seating, lousy airports, and what to do with obnoxious passengers. For me that is what really matters and not too much this website shill or bait and switch game.

  • TonyA_says

    :) Did you price in the fact that Southwest will not endorse or FIM you in case of flight disruption?

  • MarkKelling

    You are welcome.

  • MarkKelling

    True, but WN has so many point to point flights (instead of the hub setup) that they can usually get you where you are going without too much trouble other than the timing.

  • TonyA_says

    I’m a bit concerned about our upcoming LGA-MDW-LIT flight on WN. There is no other MDW-LIT flight on our schedule so if we miss that then it is overnight in Chicago. Luckily that flight departs late lots of times. A sign that it waits for connecting passengers :-)

  • TonyA_says

    To be honest, debating on what should be included in a ticket is quite pathetic. It is so tiny compared to the huge problem. The quality of our air transport system is quite unacceptable for a 1st world country and the leader of the free world. Unless you are a super elite or can afford a higher cabin, I wonder why you will be excited to fly nowadays – it is just dreadful. That’s the reason why Flyertalk exists – their members just want to get out of the miserable conditions in coach.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Putting the “fare rules” on it? There’s a bad idea if I’ve ever heard one. Sure, put so much byzantine legalese on it that it becomes useless, instead of simply telling people their luggage will cost them $25, and an exit row seat will cost $15. I guess that’s way too simple, isn’t it?

  • TonyA_says

    All I have to do is walk to the end of my driveway :)

  • Cybrsk8r

    Hmmm. “You can get a free flight after only 50,000 miles”. Sounds like they’re advertising a free flight to me. Of course, it’s not really free. In tiny print, you’ll see, “Does not include taxes and fees”.

  • Cybrsk8r

    I guess that proves there’s an exception to every rule. Occasionally, a legacy airline will be the best deal, but that’s the exception.

  • joaneisenstodt

    Shaking my head. I have learned to hate flying after doing it for just short of 67 years! (Really .. that long .. first trip was in ’47 on a prop plane from DAY to EWR with my dad.) I don’t always love Amtrak but it’s a hell of a lot easier. I’m gonna build first class Amtrak into my contracts for my sanity.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Dang! Knew I forgot something!

  • $16635417

    Do they still advertise that way? It seems like the ads I see say something like “earn XX,XXX miles” or “redeem toward flights” etc.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Seriously, thank you! When I started my search, I looked only for WN direct or nonstop flights in one window, and direct legacy carriers in the other window. The former was based on your advice.

  • TonyA_says

    Nah just kidding.
    Assuming you are flying from OMA to NYC, Southwest has many combinations via MDW so endorsing to another carrier is not an issue.
    Add another check to your list – how many flights does the airline offer for all applicable flight segments. For example for TUE, 01JULY, WN OMA-MDW-LGA has these possible pairings.

    X567 WN3593 OMAMDW- 640A 815A 737 0 WN4515
    234 WN 216 OMAMDW- 745A 915A 73W 0 WN 271
    X6 WN 519 OMAMDW- 915A1040A 73W 0 WN 271
    X6 WN1097 OMAMDW-1225P 150P 73W 0 WN1945
    234 WN4608 OMAMDW- 330P 455P 73W 0 WN2149
    X167 WN1169 OMAMDW- 600P 720P 73W 0 WN4240

    X7 WN 656 MDWLGA- 600A 900A 73W 0 [Too Early]
    X67 WN4515 MDWLGA- 910A1215P 73W 0 WN3593
    234 WN 271 MDWLGA- 125P 425P 73W 0 WN 519, WN 216
    234 WN4361 MDWLGA- 220P 525P 73W 0 WN 519
    X56 WN1945 MDWLGA- 450P 755P 73W 0 WN1097
    X6 WN2149 MDWLGA- 600P 905P 73W 0 WN4608
    X6 WN4240 MDWLGA- 825P1130P 737 0 WN1169

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Actually, outbound is OMA – STL – DCA and return is DCA – MDW – OMA. Flightstats has no info on the particular flight numbers on these routes, so I’m going to go with overall on-time performance on the segments, which is pretty good.

    I did check to see if there were other flights from OMA to DCA, just in case a mechanical issue develops. Yep. No problem. Same on the way back – multiple flights out from DCA to MDW and MDW to OMA.

    I *think* I’m covered. Not worth taking out trip insurance for this, so there’s always Consumer Advocate Man! :-D

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oh, forgot – I have to get my son and his GF back here in August for a family milestone event, so I’ll remember to look at WN there too. LGA is his preferred NYC area airport. Heck, I pay *extra* every time it comes up as the low fare on the legacy carriers to avoid ERJ!

  • LFH0

    Yes, I think you’re right and in agreement that the “boarding pass” is some type of boarding control . . . for the convenience of the carrier. The ticket is what is valid for transportation; the “boarding pass” is a simplified piece of paper that says to the carrier employee in charge of letting people onto the vehicle, the ticket is valid and it is O.K.for this person to board. But why should a passenger have to pay for such a piece of paper that is for the carrier’s benefit? Your complaint is valid, but for a different reason.

    (People Express was like Amtrak in having tickets paid-for on board, yet it used boarding passes. On the other hand, Greyhound Lines is like airlines today, not permitting boarding until the ticket is lifted at the departure gate, but no boarding passes are used. When you generalize and consider all types of transportation, carrier practice seems to be all over the board.)

  • AH

    yes, as i recall from the 70s, and even into the 80s, a ticket did include a seat assignment. i had 2 friends who were travel agents back in those days, and even tho i’d make phone calls to the airline of my choice to find out schedules and fares, i’d then turn to one of my TA friends to actually book the ticket. part of the booking process was having my TA ask me where i’d like to sit. i often traveled with my mother, so we wanted to sit next to each other – i preferred an aisle seat, she didn’t mind sitting in a middle seat, so we could book an aisle and middle together – and back when smoking was allowed, we sat in the smoking section as i was a smoker. when i traveled alone, i could book an aisle seat assignment in the smoking section.

    then again, i also remember flying in the 60s and 70s on braniff and frontier and american, where we booked our tickets ourselves, and our family of 4 would get to the gate and the gate agent would have a seating chart at the check-in desk. (it was one of those where they used a wax pencil to X-out seats which had already been assigned), but we could look at the chart, and choose our seats, then the agent would used a black marker to write the seat assignment on our “ticket folders” – which then became the boarding pass.

    even in 1993 and 2002, i used one of my TA friends to book tickets on AA, and we got assigned seats (party of 2 – aisle and middle seats) when the TA mailed the paper tickets and boarding passes.
    (i’ve been traveling since the late 50s, and started learning to make airline and hotel reservations in the late 60s – anyone else remember the printed OAG? (seems they now have online versions, and they’ve gotten hugely expensive!) back in the “olden days” it was a neat handy-dandy little booklet that was published every 3 months with flights sorted by city or origin, then by destination city, then by airline, and included all flight schedules for each route, and a few other codes and stuff i don’t remember now.

  • bodega3

    I wasn’t working in the business before deregulation, so that would have been a possible time that something could have been different, but since the 80’s, I could book a reservation and not be able to assign a seat, being told seats are airport checkin.

  • bodega3

    This is what confused many people who buy an airline ticket. A ticket is only a paid fare for a flight. A boarding pass allows you to board a specific flight. Without a boarding pass, you don’t get on a plane. You need a paid fare to obtain a boarding pass.

  • bodega3

    See that is part of the problem with DIY’ers. They don’t want this information but those rules provide a lot of information of what you can and can not do with your ticket.

  • LFH0

    That is the point that I think is not so clear. A ticket entitles the ticketholder to transportation; that’s a provision in every contract of carriage. The ticket can also contain a reservation, and the code “OK” means that the reservation is confirmed for a particular date and flight. The practice of air carriers is to also issue a “boarding pass,” but I think that practice developed out of tradition rather than being part of the contract of carriage. Greyhound Lines does not use boarding passes; it is the ticket itself (which may be valid only for a particular date and scheduled) that is used for boarding. I’m not sure if I see any practical purpose of a boarding pass other than having a piece of paper to inspect or collect (but tickets can serve that same purpose, so why have both?).

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    what nonscience. An airline reply does not need to employ anyone at at airport. Flight attendants could do check in at gate for everyone.
    Baggage check in could be handled by airport or 3rd party employees at their cost.
    Get used to it & travel light or pay.
    TSA (non)security nonsceince is a massive waste of money & has not stopped 1 terrorist. Get rid of this really REALLY dodgy organisation & save big bucks.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Not all all. Their are different levels of disclosure. An analogy would be your credit card statement. You have the disclosure, e.g. balance, interest rate, due date. Those are the main and most important elements which need to be easily discernible. But you also have the full terms and conditions which are can be read at your leisure, but contains information that is generally less critical to know.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    We can easily distinguish between items which are fundamental to the purchase and those items which are really nice to have, but one can do without.

    A new car without wheels frustrates the purpose of the purchase. Thus selling a new car, but not including the wheels, would be deceptive. But if you buy a junker for parts, it may not have the wheels. It depends on the reasonable expectation of the consumer.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Debating about disclosure though is always critical.

  • bodega3

    Anyone can show up with a ticket, if space allows the purchase, but you may not have a confirmed seat assignment. A boarding pass confirms a seat assignment. With that said, I had been on flights where two people are assigned the same seat, so glitches do happen. Bus travel for me, recently only gave me passage on A bus, not a guarantee for any specific bus.

  • bodega3

    It is hard for me having been on the other side of reservations to see your comparison. Having seem so many letters to Chris that were clearly due to a passenger not understanding the rules of a fare they booked, that IMHO, not making those more accessible just puts many DIY’ers think they know something that they don’t.

  • LFH0

    I think that if you go back to the “old days” you’ll find that the “boarding pass” was really just the ticket jacket with a sticker showing a seat number, and in that sense, I think you might be right about a boarding pass just being a seating assignment (but consider (1) Southwest Airlines having boarding passes but no seating assignments, and (2) bus companies not having boarding passes but some printing seat assignments on the ticket itself). Assuming that to be the case, then the charge made by Spirit to print out a boarding pass is really a charge for the carrier assigning each passenger a seat.

  • PsyGuy

    I’d MUCH rather have tickets priced bare bones, but require all carriers to do so. The key is to make what your buying or pricing comparable to all competition, so that yes I can compare apples to apples. I dont like the idea that a ticket must include two checked bags and a carry on and personal item, and advance seat selection. I really dont want to pay more and subsidize travelers checking two bags, if I don’t have any. The same goes for carry ons and personal items (some of those “bags” woman call a purse can hold a sleeping bag). Advance seat selection also has its issues.

    What I see the airlines doing is just computinga price for those services, but then offering some kind of discount for not having them, and all they are going to do is over price those services, and offer you less than the cost of a discount. For instance they will add $75-$100 for the ticket price for those two checked bags but only give you a $50 discount for not checking bags. You also know they are going to redefine what qualifies as a personal item, and they will as above just factor in a cost to the price of the ticket.

    The same will happen for advance seat assignment, they will just increase the base fare $25 but if you accept an “unassigned seat” until check in you will get a voucher for a complimentary beverage on the flight.

  • PsyGuy

    So why get the advance seat assignment, a seats a seat. Save the $99, and get an hour long massage when your flights over.

  • PsyGuy

    Luxury costs money. Use roads for example, their are private toll roads you can pay for and have a much less hectic commute.

  • DReinig

    Two checked bags should be included in the ticket price. Boarding today is significantly slower due to all the suitcases being brought on board and causes flight delays. Overhead space should be used for carry on items which are items too fragile to check. It also isn’t fair people who board towards the end of the line cannot carry on items which truly are carry on items, and fragile because all of the overheads are full of suitcases. They shouldn’t be forced to check those fragile items. And the size of the bags, and number of bags being carried on is ridiculous.

  • Michael__K

    It’s not technology. It’s standards.

    Do carriers provide a standard way to programmatically access their additional fees? Or do you have to wade through lines and lines of non-standardized text?

    If access to the fee types/categories and fee amounts were standardized, it would be easy to fetch and display.

    But why would carriers do that of their own volition if it’s more profitable when true cost is opaque.

  • Travelnut

    I think you hit it on the head, and this is basically what I was going to post. A ticket proves you paid airfare for a flight but it’s just that. A boarding pass is permission to board a particular flight. In order to pass through security, you need a boarding pass, not just a ticket. The boarding pass proves you’ve checked in and are clear to board (notwithstanding anything that could happen between the security point and boarding).

  • Travelnut

    In your FF proposal, is the seat selection fee built into the fare or are you proposing that families get the fee waived? If the latter, I very much disagree. Solo travelers shouldn’t be singled out (no pun intended) for a fee that others are not charged. Either charge a fee or don’t, but don’t charge it discriminately.

  • ploughmud

    if the seat is not included, I will just stand..oh, of course, the airline won’t let me stand…they make me sit for a fee…what if I refuse to pay an extra fee to sit, then where are we?
    what is wrong w this picture?

  • TonyA_says

    No waivers. Families don’t get anything for free.
    I can’t see any reason (legal or moral) why a family needs anything for free.

  • BMG4ME

    In fact I believe that by doing this, they have reduced the cost of air travel. I am seeing prices that are way lower than they have been for a long time for tickets to some places. Also I don’t think that making money is a crime, it seems to be OK when it’s us supporting our families.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I’m surprised nobody else mentioned it, but it’s amazing that people want a reserved seat by a slight margin over a toilet. This invites insight into why certain things should be included in a ticket price to benefit everyone.

    FA’s and other passengers and even the airline don’t want someone considering peeing in their pants to avoid going to the bathroom or because they don’t have a credit card on them to pay for it. If someone NEEDS to go the bathroom, I would want them to have a clear, and inviting, path for them to get there. Wouldn’t you? NOBODY should want a pay toilet on a multi-hour long flight…

    What people should be charged for on all flights is alcohol. I love free drinks as much as the next guy but the number one problem FA’s have on flights are people who can’t handle their liquor and the less drunks up in the air, the better.

    A free checked bag encourages people to travel as light as possible to the gate and free up time at TSA checkpoints (which cost everyone money) and saves time at boarding (which saves the airlines money). Although Spirit Airlines is the anti-Christ, I have to give them credit for charging MORE for a carryon bag than for a checked one. They have it right: Carryons cost them more in time and money than checked bags.

    Water? Again, something that should be “free” for everyone’s sake. You don’t want someone getting dehydrated and passing out because they didn’t want to pay 5 bucks for a small bottle of water. (Tip: I wash my hands with bottled water in the bathroom. I’d rather wash my hands in the toilet than the water that comes out of the faucet.)

    Small snacks? Again, you want people to have enough energy to remain somewhat alert and coherent. You don’t want people getting starved and low on blood sugar. Hand out sugar cubes if necessary.

    In theory, I don’t mind bringing this stuff on my own (except the toilet, of course) except that the TSA had made that difficult due to security restrictions. In the old days, I brought my own soda, snacks and water if I knew that service was going to be minimal.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    It’s useful to remind everyone that “dereguation” did NOT regulate that seat assignments had to be included or checked bags, etc.

    Indirectly, as routes and prices were regulated this meant that airlines competed on service and this drove them to offer more “freebies” to lure people away from competing airlines for the same route and price or to even consider going to a different airport to take advantage of freebies.

    The consequences of prices being set by regulators rather than market competition was the risk that some routes would be underpriced or overpriced and this would either arbitrarily put airlines out of business, or drive massive profits their way.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    CCF, could you elaborate on what you mean by that claim that BC and FC travel isn’t “commoditized” at all?

    The prices for first and business class vary by airline and also there are ways to get into the different cabins based upon elite status. It’s safe to say that most travelers in those cabins didn’t pay for a full priced ticket but rather got upgraded somehow through status or miles. Another trick is that upgrading a full class walk-up fare to business is often trivial and this is a trick that business travelers often use to sneak into the business cabin. They get the full class fare ticket and use miles to upgrade or qualify as elites. It’s the “Y class” trick.

    There is a difference between the first class and business class “cabin” so to speak. The FC lounge is much better and they often have special treatment to get on the plane. What many don’t know is that First Class travelers often board LAST and through a hidden backroute from the lounge to avoid being seen. This way movie stars and other celebrities can avoid being recognized. It’s not advertised, but FA’s often overlook FC passengers breaking the rules and leaving their seat belts off and their pets roaming the cabin. These aren’t big perks IMO but for the ultra wealthy who don’t want to bother with flying private, it’s worth it to them. They consider it a good savings to pay $5000 for a FC seat as compared to $20K for private. Also, FC has a special TSA line to expedite them going through. Some people even make it a game to sneak into the first class TSA screener line. Shhhh!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I don’t think travel sucks. Keeping in mind how 911 messed things up, other than that, things are quite nice.

    I book my ticket online and set up my reservation. I get a free checked bag with my CC or I fly Jetblue. I know which security zones have the shortest lines at Dulles and usually am through in about a half hour at most. Using lounge passes from my CC, I enjoy a nice comfy chair at the lounge and catch up on reading or email. I walk to the gate and seeing the gate lice run around like mad, I wait until the last minute to board. The overheads are full but no problem, I only brought a small bag and jacket which I put under my seat. I checked in 24 hours in advance and since many people don’t know how to use that feature, I have a great reserved seat without paying for it. I bring some snacks with me for the flight and have a nice small meal at the airport. I have a bottle filled with water that I brought empty through security and filled up at the water fountain.

    This is not really all that bad.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    CCF, I’m sure you’re too well educated to watch this show (I sometimes tune in on the few days off I stay at home sick, etc) but on The Price Is Right or “Let’s Make A Deal”, they have A New Car! available to be won and we hear:

    “Yes, this NEW Cordova with a SPACIOUS interior comes with FRONT disc brakes, a standard transmission, and roll windows! The interior is luxurious polyester and comes with a cabin with fan air and 4 windows!”

    It’s the same kind of car advertised by car lots trying to get people in for holiday sales. A cripple car most people don’t want. I bought one for my wife’s first car though :-) (OK, she has A/C, but not power windows!)

    Sigh, I miss my old little Ford Aspire because I LIKED the rack and pinion steering. For parallel parking, I had to use my muscles but the rest of the time, it worked BETTER than power steering.

  • bodega3

    To each their own.

  • bodega3

    FYI, most celebrities who fly FC do so because it is required by SAG if they are traveling for work over ‘x’ amount of miles (use to be 10,000, not sure what it currently is) and the company that is hiring them, has to pay the bill. Yes, they do get special treatment in many ways. We have seen a famous singer be allowed to sit in his blacked out SUV in the no parking zone with his body guard standing next to the car, while another employee checked everyone in.

  • bodega3

    Actually, over all, fares are well up in 2014. So no, all this isn’t lowering fares. Never has. Competition lowers fares.

  • ctporter

    I want to know what the fare (ticket) plus taxes are. All else is something I want to be able to choose once I pick an specific routing. If I am savvy enough to use the internet to purchase a trip, I should be savvy enough to compare costs between airlines. Time of day for departure, and time of arrival at my destination is important to me, as well as the duration of the flight, length of connection times, luggage policies, seat assignment policies, meal options, etc. All of these go into my considerations in addition to the cost of a flight when selecting which routing to take. If someone is going to DIY their travel, they must do the work of a TA. They have to do the research, they have to compare, consider, and arrive at the best trip that meets their needs based on more than just costs. Because I do fly often, and because I end up on one airline more than others due to where I am going to and where I am departing from I am not concerned about luggage, so the issues then become the flying times and seat selection.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Google: “SAG require first class travel” and you’ll find it. Here’s the deal:

    “When a performer is required to fly at the request of the Producer,
    all flights shall be business class when available and, if not
    available, first class. There is a major exception to this rule. Coach
    class* air travel is acceptable in the following circumstances:
    For domestic flights that are less than 1,000 air miles when the flight is non-stop;
    For non-stop flights between LA and Vancouver;
    For non-stop flights that are less than 1,000 miles between the US and Vancouver or between the US and Toronto;
    If a substantial number of the company is being transported;
    If 6 or more performers travel together in the same class on the same flight; or
    For auditions and interviews.”

  • PolishKnightUSA

    You know, we’re in an era of stagflation when everything but wages are going up: housing, healthcare, gasoline, and meat. Inflation is often understated by government figures so basically nearly everything rises faster than inflation.

  • bodega3

    Excellent!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I wasn’t contrasting FC with BC, but I was lumping FC and BC together as a premium product and saying that premium products vary across airlines and even plane types within the same airline and route. Thus premium class passengers will actually choose a particular airline over another. By contrast coach passengers tend not to perceive a difference between airlines and buy solely on price. Sorry if that wasn’t articulated clearly on my end.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Oh, I quite agree. That’s where Chris and I have the fundamental difference. He has an idea of how travel should be. I, on the other hand, believe, that it’s quite appropriate to incentivize people to engage in more efficient behaviors, e.g. pack less and not check a bag. That saves the airlines money. And basic economic theory would agree that since you engage in money saving behavior, you should pay less.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Lol. I’m still a regular guy; just one with the bad habit of using 5 words when one will do just fine. Good thing I don’t have to pay by the word.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Ok, I think I get your point better. In many cases, couch and premium cabins, route trumps price and should be considered. My wife is biased against Reagan airport in DC and insists upon Dulles. Sometimes, I can find good fares out of Reagan. I then have to put my foot down and say we’ll go out of Reagan due to price and/or route. A lot of people are also unaware of the small regional airports available such as Burbank out of the L.A. region, for example. (And John Wayne is the MOST fun to fly out of!)

    You’re right that a FC or BC cabin often is meaningless especially for short hauls and small aircraft. I’ll sit in the overhead compartment if the flight is only an hour. Knowing elite flyers, they love the lie flat chairs and exceptional service some of them provide. At that level, it’s quite competitive and this is where the FF programs are so important: They’re used by the airlines to lock the elites in and try to capture their business. It’s hard for them to take their elite status elsewhere, but that’s changed now by “matching status” programs to lure them away from each other. Ironically, as the airlines have altered their FF programs, they’ve undermined elite customer loyalty.

    One of the challenges of the price paradigm is that with sales and pricing, it’s not even close enough to matter. If I see a Jetblue ticket for $300 for IAD-FLL and Delta for $200, I’ll consider taking Delta even if I have to pay for the first bag (or fight with the gate lice for overhead space.) That’s a huge difference. But… my wife will insist upon Jetblue and I’ll agree with her. Jetblue runs a direct non-stop to FLL so I can avoid potential transfer hassles and they’re a lot simpler. So I’ll pay the 50 percent premium but granted, I’m the exception rather than the rule.

  • Helio

    so we can get off the plane, restore circulation, and return to our original places (thanks Mark Kelling!).

    Sorry, I lost this tip. How do you do to “reserve” the seats on WN during a stop? Thanks!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    And I sympathize with the airlines in their crude, and misguided, attempt to make fares more “transparent” and quote their fares without the taxes. The point is that the taxes have skyrocketed since the good old “regulated” days of airfare. And fuel. Remember the bad old days in 2007 when it was under 2 bucks a gallon? That factor alone means that airfares should double in price. I really sympathize with the airlines getting nailed for problems aren’t of their own doing. If it wasn’t for this nickel and diming, airfares would be a lot worse. Sadly, another way they cut costs was to bust their unions. This has resulted in a lot of low paid, surly employees taking out their frustrations on uppity flyers by kicking them off the flight. It’s not flying that stinks but rather the whole economy.

    Of course, I should also mention that the CEO’s of the legacy airlines are way overpaid. That’s why I want to fly Aeroflot with those great hammer and sickle designs and orange uniforms. Only in Sheremeteyevo can you find Vodka cheaper than water!

  • BMG4ME

    In my travels fares have been down, although it wouldn’t be surprising for fares to be up since fuel costs are up too.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I’m sorry, this is geeky but it has to be quoted:

    From Monty Python:
    Milton :We use choicest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish ram’s
    bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds, whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark’s vomit.

    Praline: Larks vomit?

    Milton: Correct.

    Praline: Well it don’t say nothing about that here.

    Milton: Oh yes it does, on the bottom of the box, after monosodium glutamate.

    Praline: (looking) Wel I hardly think this is good enough.
    I think it’s be more appropriate if the box bore a great red label
    warning lark’s vomit.

    Milton: Our sales would plummet!

  • bodega3

    Thanks. I haven’t done travel for SAG members for several years now.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Funny thing. I read on WSJ that Spirit charges $34 RT to book online compared to the airport. Don’t know if they changed that. In other words, Spirit charges MORE to book at the airport and LESS to print out the boarding pass online. At least last time I heard (I don’t fly Spirit. :-)

    Which begs the question: Why charge or give discounts for the exact same behavior?

    The answer is that most people tend to book online or through the phone and not at the airport while many will tend to print out their boarding pass at the airport. Spirit then hits the passengers with hidden fees (or extra charges respectively) for normal behavior. In neither case, is it based upon “saving” the company money. Heck, charging more for exit rows doesn’t “save” the company money. They simply take advantage of a demand asset (exit row space.)

    Spirit’s business model is like a lot of companies: They have loss leaders or low prices for the wary or those willing to sleep in front of a store on Thanksgiving to try to score a deal on Black Friday and suckers. Those who don’t read all the fine print (unlike you.)

  • MarkKelling

    Almost as good as Crunchy Frog!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I heard the FAs mention this as we were landing, that we could keep our same seats and stuff on the plane and walk around if we were staying on the same plane after the stop. Or, we could choose a better seat. This is how it works: Continuing passengers stay on the plane while the other folks get off. Then the continuing passengers can get off, and they get priority to get back on. I checked a couple of sites now that I’m back home and those sites say the same thing, so I must have heard correctly!

    Some planes don’t stay on the ground very long, so the amount of stretching and moving may be limited.

  • Helio

    Thanks Jeanne!

  • Bill___A

    I read that the proposal is to include “two checked bags, one carry on bag”. Most airlines include one carry one bag and one personal item. Are these proposals being made by people who actually don’t fly?
    The airlines STILL aren’t enforcing the carryon bag sizes. I was just on a flight where several people brought on huge bags, and two full size carry on bags instead of one personal item and one carry on.
    As these airlines cram more seats into the same space on the plane, I expect the overhead storage space isn’t improving at all.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    There’s a classic SNL skit that addresses this: “It’ll fit!!!!”

    tinyurl dot com/mtxbhfk

    They’re called gate lice. They fight to get on the place first using any means, hook or crook, and then pack the overhead bins. Then the rest of us who aren’t in the mob get stuck having to gate check our bags and wait a half hour for them after arrival.

  • Bill___A

    Thanks for the note, I’ll watch that video once I VPN into the USA so I can access the content! The biscuit bunnies (AKA Flight attendants) need to pay more heed. Someone hauling two obviously oversized bags in should be stopped.

  • innchfromnj

    All travel sites and airline websites should be required by federal law with no ambiguity to display the FULL fare including all taxes and fees. Also, all baggage fees as well as seat fees.
    The practice of hiding things from consumers must end.

  • innchfromnj

    This is sort of amusing.
    Since the inception of e-ticketing and 24 hour check in, I have NEVER not printed my own boarding pass.

  • Marcin Jeske

    That assumes you have a printer available… if you are on the road… a printer is hard to find… and you have to beg hotels, or wait in lines at Kinkos. Driving to the airport after camping? Bears don’t own computers. Returning from a cruise?

  • Marcin Jeske

    I am not sure if it is the government’s hidden agenda to collect the appropriate taxes on transport. We can discuss what the appropriate level of taxation on air travel is (FAA and airports are not free), but that does not excuse airlines using accounting tricks to avoid taxes.

    Would you be fine with hotels offering free rooms with the payment of a Overnight Property Occupation fee? Lodging tax on free is $0. (I have already seen “Energy Fees” and “Safe Fees”.)

    In states with sales tax, could businesses avoid it by shifting costs to Shopping Fees or Cart Rental Fees or some other category not incurring sales tax?

    We all turn a blind eye to it because it has become common industry practice in a race to the bottom ($1 base fare sound great in an ad), but it is as manipulative and deceptive as those mail-order clubs where “free” items are contingent on buying later overpriced items, Las Vegas hotels where an ultra-low room rate is eclipsed by a massive resort fee (and the pool is closed anyway, and the gym costs extra), and bulk mail offers of free flights and resort stays (after “fees” and high-pressure sales seminars.

    Anything we can do to push airlines back to clear, simple, and reasonable fares is a good thing.