High fuel prices could bring new air passenger fees

An airplane flies past the moon.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: If you try and book a flight with an online travel system such as Orbitz today, you're not gonna find an American Airlines ticket. The carrier is looking for any way it can to increase profits after the great recession. You've seen it with added fees at the ticket counter, at the gate and when you go check your bags.

George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com is out with a list of possible new airline fees for 2011. He's with us live from New York. Good morning, sir.

GEORGE HOBICA: Good morning Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: How much money do airlines make off of those fees, the $15, $20 checked bag fees and things like that?

HOBICA: They made several billion dollars in 2010, in fact most of their operating profit -- about two-thirds of their operating profits in 2010 was from ancillary fees.

CHIOTAKIS: So what do you think is next? What are they going to charge us for?

HOBICA: Well there are several things they could charge us for. I'm not encouraging them to do so, let's get that straight. One thing is a lot of airlines will give you a full refund if a fare goes down between the time you buy and the time you fly. Some airlines charge a fee of $75 or $150 out of what they refund. But what if they say, "OK, no more refunds at all." It's just like when you buy a TV at Best Buy, you can't bring it back six months later because the price went down.

CHIOTAKIS: And some other things, anything that you're thinking off the top of your head besides that?

HOBICA: Well, you know they charge for infant fees -- lap children -- on international flights, 10 percent of the applicable adult fare. Maybe they'll start charging for domestic travel as well. Another thing perhaps is an in-person check-in fee. They charge to talk to a person on the phone at the airline, they may start charging to talk to a person at the airport if you don't do self-service, in other words get your boarding pass from the kiosk and I can understand that. They would actually save a lot of money if they tried to have people do more self service.

CHIOTAKIS: In about 15 seconds or so, when does it stop?

HOBICA: It stops I think when fuel prices stop going up. If fuel prices continues to go up it's going to affect the airlines bottom line and they really have to remain profitable.

CHIOTAKIS: George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com. George thanks.

HOBICA: Any time.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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