That’s the surprise fee Karin Melick-Barthelmess saw on her bill for an American Airlines flight from St. Louis to New York. It was listed as an “American Airlines Internet surcharge,” she says.
One dollar may not sound like a lot, but when American businesses in general — and travel companies in particular — build their entire ventures on fees like that, it is a big deal. (American raked in $266 million in ticket change fees and $255 million in baggage fees during the first half of 2013. It’s on track to collect more than $1 billion in fees for the year, with most of them coming in a few dollars at a time.)
It’s no secret that the airline industry has seen better days. But how bad is it this time?
Not as bad as the mainstream media would like us to believe, according to airline analyst Robert Herbst, who publishes the Web site Airlinefinancials.com. And not so good that we shouldn’t be cautious with future bookings, he adds.
A slow summer? They predicted that last year and they’re predicting it again this year. They may be right, finally.
We know, for example, that planes are flying slower in order to save fuel. We also know that motorists are driving slower — if not safer — because our government told us so. (It also informed us we were “not invincible.” Maybe it should take its own advice, at least when it comes to Iraq … but I digress.)
We’re getting pressure from all kinds of special interest groups to step on the brakes. The latest is the Governors Highway Safety Association, which today reminded us that slowing down will not only reduce the amount of money we have to spend on gas, but also could save our lives.
I wouldn’t be surprise to see my friends at AAA make some reference to the summer of slow when it releases its Memorial Day forecast for travel tomorrow. After all, slow is hot.
I wonder how many travelers are interested in being trendy this summer, which is to say, getting there fashionably late?
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