For years, we have been discussing how airlines have repeatedly misled Congress and the public about baggage fees, which were always an avenue to bilk customers of billions. Now a new report confirms again that this is not about fuel costs or falling revenues. The airlines are continuing to cut space for passengers, add charges for simple comforts, and raising baggage fees as they hit record profits. The U.S. airlines alone pulled in a record $1.2 billion in bag fees and another $737.5 million in reservation change fees in just the second quarter of 2017.
The airlines have found a way to way like a monopoly without triggering laws like the Sherman or Clayton acts. They operate on the assumption that the public has a short memory and most travelers have only a dim recollection of what it was like to travel in relative comfort. They have made air travel a grind — physically and financially. I have cut my air travel down by at least half because it is simply not worth it. Nevertheless, when I fly, I go with more expensive seats under the coercive plans of these airlines.
The diminishing services of the airlines is due to the successful bet of the airlines that the public will has a high tolerance for discomfort and lower and lower expectations (due to their own policies). The result is highway robbery without the highway. Airlines made $7.1 billion in the budget year ending in September 2016.
The airlines are creating a wide separation of classes between first and economy. They continue to count on people buying the lowest fares with no amenities while clipping passengers at every turn for fees. The airlines have the same attitude as the NFL to their customers: they are treating like sheep to be sheared until they are mutton. Of course, people are dropping NFL games so there may be a limit . . . but the airlines are betting that they have not hit rock bottom yet.