Thursday, July 24, 2008

They Told Us It Would Get Worse II

After the debacle of trekking to Washington, I spent my few days in town and came home today. I have never seen DCA so crowded in my entire life.

There were weather problems yesterday, but by the time I arrived at 12:30 the drama should have been long past. I checked the Departure board. My flight was all running as scheduled. The next flight was cancelled. And one later in the evening.

It looks to me that United is scheduling the O'Hare/Washington flights every hour, then canceling the ones that do not sell well enough. If that is going to be business as usual, we won't be able to count on any flight. And I am going to seriously consider driving when I have to do my Tour of the Offices this fall.

Coincidentally, I saw today that MSN Money has an article on the 12 Most Outrageous Fees and the travel industry was highlighted. Here is my favorite bit:

The careful-what-you-ask-for fee. If your Air Canada flight is delayed due to weather or heavy traffic, agents will be happy to help you find a hotel, restaurant or flight -- as long as you've paid a $25-to-$35 "On My Way" fee. Once this was something airline agents did, you know, just to help out. But in this age of fees in flight, the travel experience has been deconstructed.

For example, check out this
list of fees from Delta Air Lines, which will now charge a $3-per-bag "administrative fee" for curbside check-in and a $25 "handling charge" for awards tickets that use another airline.

What do the airlines say? Basically, you asked for it. You wanted cheap flights, and you still demand cheap flights. But with already slim profit margins and rising fuel prices, fees are the only way airlines can remain competitive.

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