Main WikiMiles News No more hidden fees to ruin your flight experience!

No more hidden fees to ruin your flight experience!

28 Nov 2022

What would you do if you were a few steps away from arriving at your airplane seat only for a flight attendant to announce that you have to pay an additional fee for that seat?


Petition for a refund? 

Pay without hesitation? 

One of the most prominent issues in air travel is the upheaval of hidden fees that aim to disclose prices of certain flight amenities to passengers in a later period. Such happens during their actual flight schedule instead of being declared to them beforehand. This is one way for air travel companies to exploit additional charges to passengers without the expectation that they will refuse to pay the hidden fees, considering they have already booked their flight.

This tactic traces its roots back to the earlier period of the pandemic when almost all establishments experienced unprecedented losses, including several airlines. Dr. Linchi Kwok of The Collins College of Hospital Management stated that these airlines insisted on adopting this technique to compensate for their financial losses.

Even low-cost airlines have become notable for employing this tactic. As stated by Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights, the Denver-based Frontier Airlines, known for its very affordable flights, tend to profit more from add-on fees than the fares themselves.

Frequent Flyer Bill of Rights

A notable aspect of the airline industry is the Frequent Flyer Bill of Rights, allowing airlines to incentivize their customers via credit card rewards and loyalty programs.

Since 1979, banks and airlines have become highly regulated industries. The former must abide by laws corresponding to proper disclosures of fees and Annual Percentage Rate (APR). On the other hand, the latter claimed they are protected by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978—an act prohibiting participants or states from regulating the price and services of an air carrier. This law denies the bank’s participation in many of the airlines’ schemes, including:

  • Advertisement of points
  • Integration of loyalty programs and fees
  • Usage of credit card reward points

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation mandated the airline industry to display all taxes and fees a few years ago in response to some airlines misleading their customers, hidden fees still exist.

A scheme that has been employed by some airlines is emphasizing the term “free” to persuade customers to sign tickets that are dubbed as award tickets. These tickets often contain the terms and conditions, and rules and regulations that need to be agreed upon before taking hold of the tickets. When signed, customers do not gain access to any transparency and forms of rights to the tickets’ miles or points that are accumulated over time because airlines are entirely in control of these. Additionally, consumers’ rights are not mentioned within these fine prints at all, enabling airlines to conceal certain factors behind the so-called benefits of frequent flyer programs.

The Frequent Flyer Bill is supposed to be an opportunity for airlines to garner loyal customers fairly. However, the programs intended to promote loyalty incentives have now become tools for fooling potential customers into believing they are fully benefiting from them. In return, the bill is now seen as a significant sales channel for several airlines, thanks to misleading information and marketing trickery.

Point of No Return

One of the core benefits of incorporating hidden fees is it allows airlines to take advantage of a point-of-no-return situation. 

Because you have already booked your flight, paid for the airfare, and stopped by the nearest airport, you do not have any choice but to continue with the schedule even if the airline abruptly reveals you have to pay an additional fee for the arrangement of seats or for bringing additional bags. 

This scenario, in turn, increases the airline’s profit but decreases the satisfaction level of the customers. This affects especially those who are on a budget and have to take note of every possible fee that may arise before booking.

It is crucial to note that hidden fees have been notorious even before the pandemic. It was only in 2012 that the U.S. government attempted to restructure this system to force airlines to disclose all fares and fees in one go when a customer is booking flights.

That year, however, was not enough to put the issue to a halt as companies continued to practice hiding partial fees even if it went against customer satisfaction. 

To resolve this, U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a new regulation that intends to scrap hidden fees airlines are incorporating in their charges completely. Biden demands they disclose all fees, taxes, and fares required throughout a flight before a customer can book.

According to the proposed law, the restriction of hidden fees will apply to all airlines that correspond with U.S.-based carriers. It is expected that the regulation will help restabilize the travel industry.

This regulation will most especially help travelers in and outside the U.S. as not all of these travelers are financially capable of paying hidden fees upfront on top of an already budgeted fare.

Following the proposed regulation, the U.S. administration hopes to see gradual progress in eradicating the issues imposed by these hidden fees. 

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