Going to the airport used to be exciting. Now, heading to the airport for a departing flight means unexpected fees, overweight baggage and a number of stresses that make you want to scream, "Just get me on that plane!"
For many, the unexpected airline fees are coming straight out of their vacation shopping and eating funds, and that's no way to start a holiday.
Canadian consumers were recently polled by the largest Canadian-owned and operated travel agency, FlightNetwork.com. They were asked how additional airline charges, such as checked baggage fees and seat selection fees, would affect their decision when choosing an airline.
Highlights From The Poll
The evidence was overwhelming that Canadians are not happy about recent hikes in fees. A number of low-cost carriers recently announced that they'd be increasing early boarding fees by 20 per cent. A popular low-cost American carrier is one airline that currently charges passengers an early boarding fee for boarding the plane first and selecting their preferred seat at that time.
Seventy-four per cent of the consumers admitted that they were angry with recent hikes in airline fees and the anticipation of even more hikes in the future. Seventeen per cent of respondents felt indifferent and 9 per cent were happy with the opportunity to choose to pay for what is most important to them. Sixty-six per cent of respondents indicated that the fees would likely or somewhat likely affect their decision to book with a certain airline.
Photo credit: Mark Hodson
The survey also asked consumers which amenities they'd be willing to pay for if airlines began to charge for them. Thirty-five per cent of respondents confirmed that they would not be willing to pay for any added amenities, while 29 per cent said they'd be willing to pay for meals and 22 per cent stated they'd be willing to pay for checked baggage. An additional 22 per cent of respondents said they'd be willing to pay for seat selection while minor percentages felt okay about paying for in-flight entertainment, pillows/blankets and sitting with their children.
This recent survey made it clear that Canadians are not happy about additional fees being tacked on to their tickets during the check-out process or upon arrival at the airport. A majority believe that such fees will have a say in which airline they choose.
However, those who have been travelling abroad or with low-cost airlines in recent years know that these charges are far from new. According to Fare Compare, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air began charging first checked-bag fees in 2007, and American Airlines implemented the same charges one year later. Shortly after, 25 percent of customers stopped checking bags entirely.
Currently, a number of international and low-cost airlines charge for seat selection, meals (and even beverages), headphones for entertainment, priority boarding and more. Surcharges are also being added for flying on peak travel days, including the spring and summer travel seasons, and the Christmas and New Year's holiday travel period.
Unfortunately for Canadians and travellers around the globe, it doesn't appear that airline fees are going anywhere anytime soon. Have airline fees been affecting your travel choices? Is there an airline with limited fees that you prefer? Let us know!
Photo credit: Reg Natarajan
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