What is up with this airline fee mania? - Curt Yeomans

Let me begin this by saying I am flat-out opposed to hidden fees, on anything.

I especially detest extra fees for air travel.

Why should I have to pay for lunch on a five-hour, cross-country flight, when you're going to gorge me with food for free, on a shorter international flight?

Who do you think you are to tell me you're going to charge me for a second piece of checked luggage, then set height, width and weight restrictions on my first piece of luggage, so I will be more likely to need a second suitcase?

I'm sorry, you're going to charge me what, in my eyes, amounts to a "fat tax?"

So, now comes news from CNN that brand-spanking-new fees, for actions such as in-person flight check-ins, holding a baby in my lap during a flight, or buying tickets with a credit card, should not be ruled out.

What? Why?

I know airlines need to come up with new revenue sources to pay for higher jet fuel and all that jazz, but do they need to go to the extreme of looking like that dirt-cheap European airline, RyanAir, in the process? That airline is talked about all over the CNN article on increasing airline fees.

And, if the RyanAir model is the route American airline companies want to take, should I be hiding my luggage now, so it doesn't get lost in a foreign airport -- again.

You might remember it took RyanAir more two months in 2009 to find one of my pieces of luggage that it lost in a London airport.

Just about the only lead U.S. airlines should take from RyanAir is the selling of ad space on the overhead carry-on luggage bins that are on airplanes. That way, you won't need to charge so many extra fees.

Then again, you could always just cut the bloated salaries of overpaid chief executive officers. That could reduce some of the company's operating costs, maybe enough to drop one of the fees.

Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

I do have to say, however, that adding fees will drive me to consider alternative means of travel.

The simple fact is that when we pay for something, we expect the best product and delivery of service possible. What does NOT qualify as good service is making me pay for a seat, and then coming back and saying I need to pay extra to bring luggage with me -- or if I want a meal.

And then, there is the occasional talk of raising ticket prices?

Oh, forget that. You must want to lose my business.

I have to say what this country lacks is a viable alternative to air travel. In Europe, you can always travel by train, if you don't want to fly, and the Eurostar trains are actually very accommodating.

They still have a dining cart, and fold-out trays or tables at every seat, and you don't have to deal with annoying passengers.

You do have to pay for any food you buy on the train, but it's not that much, and it's actually kinda edible.

But, at least they don't hit you up with the hidden fees.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.