As I’ve said before, airlines are working overtime to come up with new ways to increase ticket prices without actually raising the cost of the actual airline ticket. Here’s the latest scheme to increase the cost of your travel experience, from American Airlines —
Pay extra and you can board first, with Group One. Pay extra and you can change your flight for just $75, instead of $150. Pay extra and you can stand-by for an earlier flight without being charged for that, too.
American Airlines is calling it the “Boarding and Flexibility Package”. In the press release I received, AA tries to spin this as giving customers the choice to gain greater control over the travel expertience. I’m calling something else — another way for airlines to squeeze more money out of their passengers, a new way for airlines to charge us more for the same seat, a new way to make it more difficult to comparison shop for the best airline ticket price. Because it’s earning them suitcases full of money. USA Today reports that U.S. based airlines took in a whopping $2 Billion in the first nine months of 2009 just from the extra $25, $50 or more they are charing us to check our bags.
To introduce this wonderful new opportunity to pay more to get on board sooner, American Airlines is offering introductory reduced prices — examples $9 for Dallas/Fort Worth to Kansas City, $19 on the heavily travelled New York City to Los Angeles route (JFK to LAX), $14 for Miami to Washington, D.C. Makes you wonder what the regular price will be when this special reduced rate introductory price ends.
This new airline ticket pricing scheme is a few months after American Airlines is just a few months after AA joined Delta and Continental in charging passengers an extra $50 to stand by for a different flight. What will they charge us for next? Checking baggage? Done. Meals? Done. Carry-on luggage? Spirit Airlines tried that, but right now it can’t because it’s pilots are on strike. That’s a whole other story.