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Flying next week...(3 posts)

Flying next week...JBurton
Jul 24, 2002 5:42 PM
Isn't there a way around the bike luggage charge? Seems like I remember hearing that members of some bicycle organizations get free bike flying.

Anyone know of creative ways to get around this charge?
Not any more. . .js5280
Jul 24, 2002 8:22 PM
Wouldn't recommend lying to get your bike on for free, security is different now. Also you're too late to do the Bikes Fly Free thing. You have to book the ticket through a special travel agency (usually Navigant for IMBA, Bicycle League) So, be ready to shell out $50-$75 each way or find an alternate method (e.g. UPS). However if you're flying international, I understand that bikes fly at no extra charge.
It's even worse now (from yesterday's WSJ)Luis
Jul 25, 2002 9:04 AM
My bike box (Triall3 UPS model) has a big printed label on top that says "Display Material,"and there's nothing to show that it's a bike. Out of the half dozen trips I've made with it in the last year I don't think I've paid once.

I'm not sure I agree with the theory that increased security requires increased candor about what's in the box, it's not like there's anything dangerous in there (except occasionally to me). If anyone knows of a statute that requires a truthful answer to an airline employee I'd like to know about it, though.

I think that the reason they let it go is to avoid the hassle and delay of collecting. But, I fly mostly on Alaska Airlines and this article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal may well mean that I'll be paying in the future:

July 24, 2002

Ailing Airlines Remind Workers
To Charge All Those Extra Fees


Airlines are cracking down on employees to be more diligent about collecting a variety of often-ignored fees for everything from excess baggage to itinerary changes to traveling with a pet.

While the fees involved are often relatively small, the airlines say they amount to millions of dollars in revenue that they can't afford to lose right now. This month Alaska Airlines, the nation's ninth-largest, launched a contest to see which airports and employees can show the highest percentage increase in fee collections. American Airlines in May raised its excess-baggage fee by $5, to $80, amid a push to "capture all the revenue we need to," says spokesman Todd Burke. Enforcing fees "is certainly one way of doing it," he says.

Northwest Airlines is also asking employees to be vigilant about charging travelers for extras. Richard Anderson, the airline's chief executive, told employees in a June newsletter that "revenue leakage" is costing the carrier too much money. "We lose potential revenue ... when we waive fees," he said. "We cannot run our airline this way."

Among other things, Mr. Anderson stressed the importance of charging the fee for changing a ticket; and warned against accepting expired credit vouchers. In April, Northwest joined other airlines in charging $80 for a third checked bag.

The airlines are losing billions of dollars a year and are desperate to close the gap -- and while ticket agents who waive or ignore fees may be popular with passengers, they're much less popular with management. "Sometimes we're victims of our own efforts to be nice guys," says a spokesman for Alaska Airlines, which has a goal of boosting its fee revenue by 25% this year, without tacking on new ones.

But the strict policies could end up bruising relations with customers who feel a little more flexibility would go a way toward improving the travel experience, at a time when airlines desperately need to win back wary travelers.

The current fees are myriad. Alaska has fees for everything from ticket upgrades to oversized gun cases. Bringing a pet kennel on an Alaska flight costs $75 extra per trip segment -- more than double the carrier's basic fee for a unaccompanied child.

Changing an itinerary can trigger fees, too. Northwest charges $100 for a ticket change, pretty much the industry standard.

Some carriers are also boosting fees. UAL's United Airlines raised its fee for unaccompanied minors in November to $60 from $30. In recent weeks, carriers including AMR's American, Delta Air Lines, Northwest and US Airways have abandoned senior-citizen discounts.

In June, American doubled its charge for paper tickets to $20, and Northwest Airlines added a $10 surcharge on paper tickets for leisure fares in markets when electronic ticketing is available. Northwest says the goal isn't to raise revenue but to steer more customers toward e-ticketing, which offers big cost savings for the airline and more convenience for customers.

Delta has been