The Consumer Travel Alliance has released an analysis showing that hidden fees charged by airlines on popular U.S. domestic routes can increase the base cost of an airline ticket by an average of 54 per cent for a typical traveler with two checked bags and extra legroom, or by an average of 26 per cent for a comparable one-bag traveler.
“Our analysis showed that the hidden fees charged by airlines now rival the cost of the tickets themselves, often without any disclosure to the consumer at the time of purchase,” says Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, which is a non-profit organization promoting consumer interests on travel policy issues.
“For a family traveling in these tight fiscal times, those fees can be an unexpected shock totaling hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses,” adds Leocha. “If airlines want to charge additional fees for their services, they should be required to disclose all of those fees through every ticketing channel, so consumers can compare complete travel costs.”
The analysis was conducted by examining the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines for a typical October flight itinerary on four popular U.S. domestic routes: New York-Los Angeles, Boston-Washington, Chicago-Miami, and Washington-Orlando. The analysis included only two of the many fees now commonly charged by U.S. airlines: checked baggage and extra legroom. It showed that:
● A typical traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 per cent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase;
● A traveler checking two bags would have to pay more than one-quarter (26 per cent) of the price of the ticket in fees that were hidden at the time of the transaction;
● The amount of hidden fees charged to a typical traveler with a single bag ranged from 10 per cent to 82 per cent of the price of the base fare on specific flights examined in the analysis; and
● The amount of hidden fees charged to a typical traveler with two bags ranged from 21 per cent to 153 per cent of the price of the base fare on specific flights in the analysis.