It is absolutely astounding to me the amount of bullshit that airlines are allowed to get away with. It has become buyer beware to the nth degree but there are downright devious patterns of abuse that I’ve detected over the years and there seems to be no one that is looking out for the consumer.
As an example I offer up the bait and switch that I’ve fallen for two years running. My last scheduled day off for the calendar year is May 15th and I work 7 days a week excluding major holidays until December 31st. We plan vacations for the winter to get to the sun and planning those vacations is somewhat of a geeky hobby for me. I try to get the best flights for the best prices and I check for my vacation dates on travel sites like Kayak almost daily in case a great fare pops up for direct flights.
Just one abuse I’ve detected is that certain airlines will offer a direct flight at a decent price and then change it days later without allowing you to book a different flight and without paying exorbitant change fees. It goes like this- I’ll book a great non-stop flight and then two days later I get an email saying that the flight had been changed and now there will be a stop along the way. Well the reason I booked the flight was because it was a direct flight and if anyone knows about traveling with small children and getting car seats through airports you know you DO NOT want to have to get off and on different flights or risk being stuck in the middle of the country due to inclement weather in Chicago or some other midwest hub.
It wouldn’t be so horrible if they changed the flight on you and allowed you to opt out or get a refund because what you booked (a non-stop flight) is not what they are changing you to. But no, they won’t budge on it and they say you can change each ticket for a $75 fee PLUS any change in ticket cost to the different flight. THIS IS UNCONCIONABLE to me and makes me feel extremely violated. It has happened two years in a row on the same exact flight so that is why it seems like this is by design and planned to lure customers in and give them the bait and switch with absolutely no recourse except to take it up the ass with crazy fees.
How is it that the airlines are allowed to get away with such shenanigans and malfeasance without any politician calling them out and protecting us? The one place where I think there should actually be more government intervention and they are no where to be found but they are climbing up our ass in every other way like the latest plan to gain easier access to wiretap folks Facebook accounts.
We could write novels about the crap airlines are getting away with such as the baggage fees and how they advertise low fares on airfare checking sites like Kayak but don’t have to list their baggage fees which can bump the cost of those tickets up by 10-40% over what the price they list the cost of the flight for.
Well at least people can inform themselves about these fees and try to book on airlines like Southwest which don’t charge change fees or baggage fees.
This article on USA Today details all the fees that you should take into account before you book your flights-
Sources: Airlines, USA TODAY research by Gary Stoller
Click the picture to go to the full breakdown of add on fees airlines charge.