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Insta-CoGo: Fees, Fees and More Fees on Delta

Carol Sottili

You may have heard that Northwest has joined United, US Airways and Delta in assessing a fee for a second piece of checked luggage. It'll cost $25 each way for tickets issued March 29 or later for travel May 5 or later to destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. Other foreign destinations, you still get two free checked bags.

Delta, however, has taken the whole fee craze a few steps farther. Effective today, here are new fees travelers will pay:

* Calling to book by phone? That'll cost you $25, an increase of $5. No fee if ticket is booked online.

*Calling to book a frequent flier ticket that involves a partner carrier? That'll cost you a $25 handling fee, on top of the $25 fee for booking via phone. Book online, and there's no charge.

* Taking your small pet onboard (the kind that fits under the seat in front of you), will now cost $100, a $25 increase. And remember "monkeys, pot-bellied pigs, reptiles, frogs, mice, rats, sugar gliders, and spiders are not permitted" at any price.

* Charge for an unaccompanied minor was $50 each way for nonstop flights, $100 for connecting. Now it's $100 each way for any flight.

And think twice about buying that huge piece of luggage. Any bag that is oversize (more than 62 inches total height, width and length) will be dinged for $150 (up from $100).

There's always been a strong school of thought that those who use the service should pay the fee. The airlines believe that increasing fares across-the-board is unpopular, and they have shifted attention to increasing profits by charging user fees. But where do you draw the line and what comes next?

I don't go to the library very often, but I don't mind paying taxes to support it. And I don't have unaccompanied kids traveling to see their dad, but I don't mind paying a few extra cents on my ticket so that some single mom isn't socked with a $200 fee on top of the airfare. The airlines need to stay economically viable: Most are not making huge profits. And fares stay lower when there is competition.

So are fees the best way to go? Should we all instead pay a little bit more per ticket?

By Carol Sottili |  April 1, 2008; 12:23 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Carol Sottili , Insta-CoGo
Previous: Insta-CoGo: Heathrow's New Terminal Woes | Next: Insta-Q&A: Jellyfish Lake, the Movie

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"Calling to book a frequent flier ticket that involves a partner carrier? That'll cost you a $25 handling fee, on top of the $25 fee for booking via phone. Book online, and there's no charge."

I'm not 100% sure about Delta, but most airlines will not let you book reward travel on partner airlines online.

Posted by: Liz | April 1, 2008 12:47 PM

I know that the only way to buy rewards tickets from Northwest on partner airlines is through the phone agents. It's often worth the extra $5 fee that Northwest charges to have a direct flight from Continental (using Northwest miles). Sometimes the fees are worth it-- sometimes they're jsut crazy.

Posted by: Jen | April 1, 2008 3:48 PM

I never do any of the things they are charging for so I guess I no longer have to pay for those who do.

Posted by: Tom | April 1, 2008 3:51 PM

Lord. Yes, I would definitely prefer that they add a few cents (or a few dollars, even) to the price of a ticket rather than go around charging all these random fees. The number one thing I want is to know up front what I'm paying - not to be surprised along the way with extras. I don't do most of these things, but sometimes I might do one or two, and I wouldn't necessarily remember the whole long list of stuff they're going to charge me for.

Bottom line, it's just obnoxious, and shows a general lack of appreciation for the customer.

Posted by: h3 | April 1, 2008 4:15 PM

Not to worry, folks. Rude and indifferent service from ground crews and flight attendants is STILL available at no extra charge.

Posted by: Sasquatch | April 1, 2008 4:24 PM

I'm sure all the other airlines will be matching all of these fees soon enough.

Posted by: Glenn | April 2, 2008 9:16 AM

I don't mind paying for what I use and not paying for what I don't use. I will have to pay for an unaccompanied mnor, but that is my responsibility and not someone else's. I'm not much of a socialist; pay your own way, people!

Posted by: Affected by changes | April 2, 2008 1:07 PM

One of the things I learned a long time ago in public financial accounting was that if an organization imposes a user fee, that fee had to offset a contra-cost. For example, if an airline imposes a user fee, the contra cost would be a baggage handler's wage or some other cost. Hence, I have to wonder, What exactly is the cost that the airline attempting to offset with a baggage fee? Is it extra fuel to carry that bag from point A to point B? Another thing I learned in accounting (a different accounting course this time) is that when any organization determines it price or cost structure, it should include all the costs--direct and indirect--into the total price of the product or service. Hence, it seems to me that adding a baggage fee to the price of the ticket is a dumb practice when the airline's accountants should have included the cost of taking that piece of luggage into the total price of the ticket.

Posted by: ShepCWillner | April 2, 2008 6:01 PM

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