The list of à la carte airline fees on many domestic carriers is already comically long, but both American and AirTran have unearthed ways to squeeze even more cash out of flyers.
On Wednesday, American announced a new fee for the first few rows in coach on domestic flights. Dubbed “Express Seats,” the spots will cost anywhere from $19 to $39 more per flight and allow customers to walk on to the plane during Group 1 boarding. Besides skipping the race for overhead compartment space and deplaning quickly, passengers don’t reap many extra benefits from this charge – and the privileged seats are only up for grabs within the 24 hours before departure on self-service airport check-in kiosks.
Meanwhile, AirTran upped its checked baggage fee from $15 to $20, starting September 1. Although in a perfect world all suitcases would fly free, this seems more benign than American’s new measure. After all, Delta and Continental already charge $25 for the first checked bag, and Spirit earned infamy when it unleashed a wildly unpopular carry-on baggage fee. In light of all that, an extra $5 is harmless.