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Ready To Pay Some New Airline Fees?

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With most of my family living out on the West Coast, I have to get on an airplane every once in a while to pay a visit, and boy, things have changed from when I first went out there.

Once what was a fun way to travel has become torture for me. I hate it. If I could drive there in a reasonable amount of time, I would. It’s just a huge hassle, and it starts at the security gates, but that’s for another time.

My biggest complaint about flying is all the extra charges. You’ve got to hand it the airlines. They really dream up some good ones with charges for a lot of services that used to be free. Baggage charges are the ones that outrage me. But passengers are fighting back. They’re finding all kinds of ways to avoid it, and the airlines are feeling it. Last spring, baggage fees were down 7 percent from the year before.

So now the airlines are introducing some new fees, but these are the kind that some passengers might actually like. Airlines are betting that passengers will pay to rent Apple iPads preloaded with movies, get hot meals in coach and have an empty seat next to them. Once you get to your destination, you can pay to skip baggage claim and have your luggage delivered directly to your home or office.

Some airlines are keeping track of passengers while they’re in the airport. The plan is, if somebody clears security hours before their flight, they could be contacted on their phone and offered a discounted day pass to the airline’s VIP lounge.

Last year, all those extra fees generated $15 billion in extra revenue for airlines, and it’s what makes them profitable. They say because of the high cost of fuel, without the fees, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business.

Airlines have tried to raise fares 48 times in the past three years, but more than half the time they had to lower the fare again because reservations declined so badly. Still, fares have increased 3 percent over the past decade, while the cost of jet fuel has nearly tripled. Without the extra fees, fares would be 15 percent higher.

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