Budget airlines have long been charging for any additional services they see fit. The famous ones are now starting to offer extra services. They say civil aviation is like that canary bird they once used to detect toxic gases in coal mines. When the economy is doing poorly, it is the airlines who feel it first because, in general, they operate at modest profit rates and are extremely dependent on variables like fuel prices, political situations and tourism trends.
In Europe traditional air carriers fight this by optimizing their costs and flight schedules and investing in modern and cheaper technologies. An Increasing Number Of Airline Companies, mostly in America, but lately in other parts of the world too, are starting to charge their customers for things that have been free in the past. In order to attract more customers they are forced to constantly reduce their ticket prices. In the meantime, they are not able to influence the fuel prices and airport fees which are the “constants that are getting more expensive”. The possibilities to make a profit are reduced to the minimum, and at the same time passengers keep wanting more and more.
Not only are fees becoming more expensive, but they are also more frequent. Since the first paid extra service in the air was offered (the luxurious sandwich provided by Imperial Airlines in 1927) experts have never stopped working on optimizing this scheme. Although, for a long period of time, flights were so expensive and exclusive that companies had to include everything in the ticket just to attract passengers. This is how it was until some 20 years ago when the Irish Ryanair rediscovered the extra costs mania as a source of constantly bursting liquidity.
As a matter of fact, some of the fees are logical and, perhaps, fair. For example, imposing a fee for transportation of extra luggage is justified from the point of view of the passengers who travel with a few things and want to save money. If the luggage was included in the price of the ticket, some passengers would be forced to pay for suitcases they do not bring and cover the costs of those travelling with heavier luggage. Often though, fees charged take advantage of the customer. for example, charges 20 euro for each kilogram of extra luggage even though the real transportation price is about one euro. Of course, companies need to discourage extremely heavy suitcases in order not to weigh down their planes too much. Sometimes these attempts cross the line. A more reasonable approach is to impose “pleasant fees” – these are charges for things that passengers want and but are not required to have.
But the focus is still mostly on the additional services onboard, from the purchase of accessories like blankets or even headache pills. The idea about customization is not an airline invention. Internet giants like Amazon have been working this way for years. Even Starbucks has a personalized cafe based on the taste and preference of each customer. Airlines says “The passengers should understand us – the airlines have no choice but use these extra fees”.