Airlines are Making More with Ancillary Fees All those fees for services and amenities that were included in your airline ticket including baggage (although Southwest Airlines lets you check two bags free and your first checked bag fee is free with JetBlue Airways), seat assignments, meals, in-flight entertainment and etc. are adding up. The number of airlines charging those bag fees increased from 23 to 47 last year, according to an annual study by Amadeus, a major global distribution system. Fee revenues were up 38 percent to $21.46 billion. And for a few airlines, ancillary fee revenue now generates nearly 30% of their revenue. Topping that list: vacation carrier Allegiant Air, 29.2%; Spirit Airlines, 22.1%. (Source: Amadeus press release). What Bothers Air Travelers Most - Fees and Discomfort All those fees and lack of comfort are sore points with air travel consumers and it’s why some people are traveling less, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Eight of ten major airlines got low grades on seat comfort and several others got low marks for cabin crew service, cleanliness and in flight entertainment. Two exceptions: Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. Southwest got top marks for check in and cabin crew; JetBlue scored tops on seating comfort. US Airways scored lowest overall and has the worst marks for cabin crew service. Flyers were also unhappy about service fees: 40% of those who say they’re flying less blame fees. The fewer fees airlines charged, the happier passengers are and, interestingly enough, both Southwest and JetBlue are stable on bag fees. (Source: Consumer Reports press release). More People Will Take to the Skies This Summer The Air Transport Association of America is projecting that about 1.5% more people will fly this summer than did last year, to the tune of 2.24 million people in the air every day. The ATA predicts that 206 million passengers will fly between June and August 2011. That is well below the pre-recessionary high of 217 million in the summer of 2007. (Source: ATA press release). Airfares Rose in Fourth Quarter 2010 Average domestic airfares rose to $337 in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 5.2 percent from the average fare of $320 in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Newark-Liberty, NJ, had the highest average fare, $461, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $156. Despite that increase, airlines are correct in saying that, long-term, fares are staying low. The DOT calculates that in 1995 dollars, the average airfare in the fourth quarter of 2010 was $236, compared to $288 in 1995 and $300 in 2000. Adjusting for inflation in 1995 dollars, fares in 2010 averaged $235, up 6.7 percent from 2009 but down 21.6 percent from the inflation-adjusted high of $300 in 2000. (Source: DOT press release). Tarmac Delays Keep Decreasing Here is some good news for flyers. March was the fourth month out of the last six that the nation’s airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report just released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A year ago, in March 2010, the carriers reported 25 tarmac delays longer than three hours. Carriers also reported a decrease in the rate of canceled flights in March compared to a year earlier. (Source: DOT press release).