Airline updates: fees increase

Delta Airlines

International Premium Travel Sees First Uptick in Nearly Two Years
The International Air Transport Association reported that international premium travel was up 1.7 percent in December 2009 over a year earlier. That’s the first increase since May 2008. Economy travel was up five percent over a year earlier.

The recession hit airlines hard throughout the first half of 2009, but a post-recession upturn began in the second half. May marked the low point for premium travel while February marked the low point for economy travel. (Source: IATA press release).

Global Air Capacity Grows for the Sixth Month in a Row More good news came from OAG, the aviation data tracking company.

It reported that in February, global airline capacity was up five percent, the sixth month in a row that it has increased. The single exception: North America, which reported a one percent decline in February in both flight frequency and capacity.

However, North America saw positive growth of three percent and two percent for frequency and capacity in flights to and from the region. Decreases continue on service between North America and Western Europe, where routes have five percent fewer seats and five percent fewer flights for the month.

Still, the OAG said airlines are adding routes in North America—108, with most being domestic flights. (Source: OAG press release).

U.S. Airline Revenue Up for First Time in More Than a Year
Other positive airline news: The Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 1.4 percent in January, reversing 14 consecutive months of declines.

Traffic was down very slightly--.4 percent—and the average price to fly one mile was up very slightly--.6 percent. James C. May, president and CEO of the ATA, said that the small revenue increase, coupled with a 17 percent increase in cargo traffic, could be the sign of a recovery. (Source: ATA press release).

Business Travel Continues Slow Recovery
Business travel continues its slow recovery with more than one in seven (15 percent) adults planning at least one business trip during the next six months, up from 13 percent recorded one year earlier.

According to the travel horizons survey co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association.The U.S. Travel Association projects a slight increase in both business and leisure travel for 2010 over 2009. The "perceived safety of travel," declined from 93.8 in October 2009 to 84.8 in February 2010, presumably due to lingering concerns about the "Christmas Bomber" incident that occurred in Detroit over the recent holidays. (Source: Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association press release).

Virgin America Ups Baggage Fees, American Charges for Blankets
Airlines continue to add on fees. American Airlines, following the lead of other airlines, will charge $8 for blankets and pillows in coach starting May 1.

Virgin America upped its baggage fee for all checked bags to $25 from $20. First Class passengers continue to check two bags for free; Main Cabin select and Main Cabin passengers with refundable fares can check their first bag for free. (Source: Virgin America press release, American statement).

Road Warriors Biggest Worry is Those at Home
Nearly 74 percent of business travelers say their stay-behind spouse has expressed concern about being left home alone, according to a survey commissioned by Logitech, a Swiss technology company.

Even more, 79 percent frequently worry about their significant other when traveling for business. Fifty-nine percent said they would look for a job with less business travel when the economy improves. And 54 percent would take a $5,000 paycut if it meant never having to travel for work again. (Source: Logitech press release)