Archive for April 26th, 2008

Airline Travel Consumers, a $25 Second Checked Bag Fee is a Double Edged Sword For You and The Truth Behind The Fee You are Being Forced to Pay For Your Checked Luggage

Posted on April 26, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Dear Air Traveler,

Just back from NY where I had an Emmy award winning reporter Peter Thorne at CW 11 News interview me for their wonderful “Factfinder” report about the book I wrote for you The Empty Carousel  and a topic I have discussed here on this blog. I will provide the link for you to view the news report when it comes out in the first week of May. Peter and the entire staff at CW 11 News treated me and my wife like family, Thank you Peter and CW 11 News in NY and thank you for the difference you are making every day in the lives of your viewers!!

Now onto tonight’s topic the addition of more airlines signing onto the new $25 fee for a second checked bag.  This is a double edged sword for you the air traveler. As mentioned in a previous post, even if your bag is mishandled the airlines will not refund the fee. Why you ask is this fair? It is not fair in my opinion but it is a way to add a fee that sticks to offset dramatically rising fuel costs. Let me explain further. The airlines, if they cared about you, your luggage and the fee would add a disclaimer that states, if you pay the fee and your bag or bags are mishandled, we will refund the $25 fee you paid in the least. You see this would help hold the airlines accountable to make sure they are doing the best baggage handling their company can do. This would force airlines to work to earn that fee but the way they are doing it to you the air traveler states that we can continue to fail on behalf of you our customer (AKA our bread and butter) and your luggage and not be held accountable but you will still pay us the additional fee. What other business is so brazen to do this I ask? You be the judge.

The airlines are an extremely volatile and competitive business. Every now and again airlines will test the waters and attempt a fare increase. When other airlines do not jump on board with the fare increase, many times the airline that initiated the increase will retract the increase to remain competitive in the markets they serve, it is all about beating the competition. These days there is not much difference in any airline as you all know, amenities are falling to the wayside and one airline pretty much is no different than the next. What matters in a society feeling the biggest financial pinch since the Great Depression is value for our dollar and cost of traveling for us or our family is our primary concern as it should be. Lets face it what control do we have anymore over fuel costs, food costs, living expenses, etc. Our current salaries no longer have the same value in the quality of life we live.

What used to make airlines stand out from the rest and have a consumer pay more is the level of service they provide, we all have spent a bit more because we wanted the best and were willing to pay the extra dollar to get it. With so many airline employees facing the loss of their jobs, loss of benefits and pay, we as human beings cannot help but let these life crisis affect our service to our customers. We can try to hide it but it does come out in the end in the level of service we provide our customers as it is our nature as people who have families to take care of and bills to pay to support our own families and lives we live. You can see it in the faces of everyone these days and especially those who work for the airlines.

Let me give you an example of what fuel costs mean to an airline. My company was not a major U.S. airline but was the number one airline for customer service and level of service it provided. Many awards including “Wolds Best Domestic Airline” was bestowed on my company many years in a row. But every penny increase in fuel prices, (Let me reiterate, every penny in increased fuel prices) equated to $1 Million in fuel costs per year added to the bottom line for my airline.

The airlines say that their business travelers will not be affected by this increased cost of checking a bag but that you the leisure traveler will burden the costs for checking a second bag. This is not necessarily a true statement. Many business travelers will be forced to check a second bag as their business materials, samples, products, etc. need to go with them on their business trip to make a sale and the airlines in general according to their Contracts of Carriage do not cover these items if lost, damaged, pilfered, or delayed. The choice is no longer available to the air traveler and rest assured if the airlines are successful in implementing these new charges which they will be; the fees will never go away but become a part of our travel experience to come.

Another reason to understand the process and know your rights. Please take measures to protect yourself and your best interests whether pleasure or business, you have a great deal to do with the outcome of your travel experience.

As always, safe and happy travels to you no matter the purpose of your travel.

Best Regards and stay tuned for my next post for a better air travel experience for you and yours.

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

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