FLYING À LA CARTE
The practice of à la carte
pricing, that is, charging passengers for each service
individually, for instance food and drinks or choosing a seat, is more and more common.
The trend began with American Airlines
introducing a fee for checked-in luggage
and soon the ideas for other add-ons followed. With far fewer people flying because of
the economic recession airlines are reluctant to raise fares and many companies are
counting on this money more than ever. In fact, à la carte
pricing has become so
successful that experts are predicting it will be on the rise in the years to come.
European carrier FlyWithUs
has taken à la carte
pricing to the extreme, introducing
a per-minute fee for customers speaking to a company representative on the phone.
That practice would probably never take off in the U.S. Experts predict the à la carte
pricing structure will allow carriers to treat higher-paying passengers better than their
penny-pinching neighbours. For example, a person who buys an in-flight meal,
a headset, and a pillow is likely to get better service from the cabin crew. This has
always been the case in first class, but it’s new to economy.
Because fees vary from airline to airline – and only a few companies, like Southwest
still subscribe to the old-fashioned, all-inclusive approach – it takes a lot of work to
figure out the total cost of a trip. You have to do a lot of math but if you book online,
don’t check-in a bag, and skip the meal, you’re probably paying less than
if the airlines had simply raised fares. And according to a poll conducted last year
people are becoming more comfortable with the system for that reason. Fifty-three
percent of the respondents said they’d prefer to buy the lowest-priced option and then
add services than go for a higher priced all-inclusive fare.
adapted from www.budgettravel.com