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$20 fuel surcharge for Northwest, American and Continental

$20 fuel surcharge for Northwest, American and Continental

Feb 21st, 2003, 03:06 PM
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$20 fuel surcharge for Northwest, American and Continental

Since fuel is so expensive now, Northwest, Continental and American Airlines are passing the increase on to the consumer in the form of a $20 surcharge r/t. I think this kicks in with the taxes portion of a purchase, not in the actual fare price.
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Feb 21st, 2003, 04:31 PM
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They are tricky and do this so that free frequent flyer award tickets have to pay and so that they can advertise a lower fare and surprise you with a $20 higher price later.

This is unethical. The advertised price should be the price that you pay.

Some day, American Airlines will charge a napkin fee, required fee to breathe their air, and a required seat belt fee. That way, they can charge only $49 from New York to London (plus the $50 fuel surcharge, $39 breathable air fee, $5 napkin fee, $49 seat belt fee, $63 tax) = about $500 return.
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Feb 21st, 2003, 05:37 PM
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Airlines have implemented and dropped this fee before in response to changing fuel costs. While we all want the lowest total fares that we can possibly get, I have a hard time faulting an industry that is bleeding red ink for trying to recover some of the very significant increase in fuel costs that we've all been seeing at the gas pumps. Fuel costs are a huge operating expense for airlines and they were experiencing plenty of difficulty even before that extra burden came into play. If it helps more people keep their jobs and the service intact, then an extra $20 r/t doesn't seem too far out of line to me. (No, I don't work for an airline.)
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Feb 21st, 2003, 06:59 PM
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I thought I read that this fee was rescinded because NW wouldn't go along with it.
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Feb 21st, 2003, 07:01 PM
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Northwest changed their minds and are now charging it according to cnn.com (February 21st)
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Feb 21st, 2003, 07:10 PM
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I don't mind it so much either as it just makes economical sense, BUT I think it is misleading to attach the fee as a surcharge instead of just making it part of the fare itself.
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Feb 21st, 2003, 07:48 PM
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Last year Air Canada went this route.

After almost a year of tacking this on to their 'advertised' rate they were ordered to take it off and incorporate it into their prices.

Otherwise, as Hiroshi stated, there would soon be a 'napkin fee'.
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Feb 21st, 2003, 08:50 PM
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Remember a few years ago when all the hotels were adding an "energy surcharge" to the bill. Is there no end to these shams?
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 05:32 AM
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I agree with Hiroshi, I think this is really unethical and misleading advertising. It shouldn't be allowed because it's very blatant they are trying to deceive people, or they'd just change the ticket price. I would think the FTC should get on this, wouldn't they be the ones to regulate false advertising? It isn't the fee itself as airlines can charge whatever they want, it's being devious and trying to trick people. You don't have a choice as to whether to pay it, so it's part of the basic price and shouldn't be broken out. It would make more sense to me for them to have a meal surcharge and then you could decline it if you wanted (which I always do, I often won't eat their meals).
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:06 AM
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I'm a little confused. How can you say you're being tricked and deceived when you know about it in advance? What's the difference what they call it? When you purchase an item in a store, the sales tax is added on. Do you call that deceiving or misleading?
Hell, I don't want to pay it anymore than anyone else, but why not throw some blame towards the fuel producers and distributors?
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:17 AM
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I agree with Howard. I don't thin k the 9/11 surcharge is misleading. I think 2 people paying a different price for the same ticket is misleading,but not advertized fees. Oil prices are rising and the airlines can't expect to "eat it".
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:26 AM
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There are different degrees of evil. Severe evil is torture or murder. A much lesser evil is charging you a fuel surcharge and not telling you. Still less evil, but still evil, is bait and switch. This is what the fuel surcharge is. If one is really fed up, they can decline to buy the ticket.

Let's observe a high level of ethics. Let's don't try to do the most tricky, but barely legal, way of doing business.

Another example of bait and switch is some travel agencies advertising of low airfares that you must buy an expensive hotel room to qualify.
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:31 AM
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Hiroshi, your legic defies and mystifies me!
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:32 AM
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I would not call it"evil". The most misleading thing airlines do is convince the public that frequent flyer prorams are free and easy.
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:51 AM
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Ooops, I meant say that Hiroshi's comments defy logic and mystify me.
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Feb 22nd, 2003, 07:36 AM
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It may actually be a benefit to the consumer to have the fee as an add-on in the pricing structure, rather than simply rolling it in. For example, if certain taxes on airline tickets are calculated as a percentage of the base fare, then breaking the surcharge out of the base fare would keep the $20 r/t from having additional taxes applied to it. Charging a flat fuel surcharge is a different approach than actually calculating the impact of increased fuel costs on specific routes (after all, it's $10 each way -- whether you're flying 200 miles or 5,000 miles.) I noted that when I ran a booking through an airline website, the surcharge was included in the total on the screen well before the actual purchase would be made.

It seems like what we're really talking about is a common industry standard that educated buyers should make it their business to understand. Is it any different than advertising the lowest fares available on a route and then discovering that they're sold out or not available on the days you plan to travel? Using a different industry, what about a tire sale in which the ad prominently features an example in a size that doesn't fit the specs for your car and doesn't include the "disposal fee" for your old tires or the excise tax on the new ones? Have you ever tried to get a rental car for anything close to the per-day
advertised rate?

I suppose we could have legislators make more laws about things like that, but considering how many taxes these folks already hide and bury in the price of all types of goods and services, the whole excercise would seem a bit hypocritical.
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