Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Nickel-and-diming is a matter of principle.
The principle involves you being a long way along the path to purchase before you discover that, oh, there’s no free food on your flight.
Or, ah, a window seat will cost you at least $70. One way.
When airline fares appear online — especially on comparison sites — airlines want the number to be as low as possible.
Because you’re greedy and gullible. And airlines are just greedy.
This tends to annoy people, not least those who run price comparison sites.
Oddly, there were a couple of regulations being discussed that would force airlines to present the true price of everything more clearly.
You will be stunned into flying Sub-Cattle Class when I tell you that last week, the Department of Transportation decided that no, we’ll leave things as they are.
As Bloomberg reports, two separate proposals for greater transparency were taken away by airline staff in convenient plastic bags.
Of the regulation that demanded airlines be transparent about their true pricing, the Department of Transportation offered: “The Department is withdrawing these rulemakings because they are of limited public benefit. The Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees is unnecessary as the Department’s existing regulations already provide consumers information regarding fees for ancillary services, including baggage fees.”
Just before you press “buy” or just after?
You must decide how limited — or not — the benefit to you might be if you immediately knew that the advertised $120 fare would actually be $270.
It seems that a new regulation-cutting, business donor-supporting spirit may have prevailed.
Passengers advocacy group Travelers United felt it had been dragged down the aisle of an MD-80 by some airport police officers.
“Having the DOT step back from developing rules to allow consumers to know the full price of travel and to be able to comparison shop is an affront to America,” it declared.
On the other hand, Airlines For America — which represents the commercial airlines — squealed with glee.
It chirped that “airlines, like all other businesses, need the freedom to determine which third-parties they do business with and how best to market, display and sell their products.”
You can see their point, of course.
It’s always about freedom.
Except, that is, when customers want the freedom to look at all the prices, catches included, and decide where to spend their money.
Instead, the nickel-and-diming makes passengers do so much work in order to discover the true cost of their choices that it tires them into resignation.
Passengers resent paying these so-called ancillary fees, but they believe there’s nothing they can do about them.
They end up resenting the airlines, but the airlines aren’t too bothered about that when more than 80 percent of all U.S. airline seats are in the hands of just four companies.
In other news, Airlines in America’s website says airlines are doing “7 things to strengthen customer service.”
I fear being open about pricing isn’t one of them.