Have you heard the news … travelers paid nearly $8 billion in fees to the airline industry last year. This doesn’t count the amount of money that travelers spent on actual tickets; it’s just the amount spent on things like checking baggage and buying snacks on the plane. Travelers are making these payments because the airlines aren’t giving them any choice. However, you do have a choice. You choose where your money goes. If enough people stand up and put their money where their complaining mouths are then we can change the way that airlines are operating and once again fly without these fees.

What Are We Paying For?

There once was a time when we simply paid for our plane tickets and that covered most of what we needed during our flight. We got free beverages and a little snack to hold us over on short flights. We got free meals on longer flights. We got to carry on one bag and check another one or two bags since you clearly need to have clothing and other items with you when you travel. But that’s not the case anymore. These days, many airlines are charging fees for:

  • Food. Gone are the days of free meals. These days you don’t even get a free snack. On most airplanes, you have to pay quite pricey sums to get vending-machine-style food to snack on during your flight. Airlines are still offering non-alcoholic beverages for free … for now.
  • Baggage. Airlines have recently started charging you to carry on bags as well as to check your bags. Although some airlines say that they’ll commit to keeping carry-ons free of charge, they’re not making any promises about keeping the cost of checked baggage down.
  • Pillows and blankets. Remember when every seat on the airline came with one of these? Now there are very few kept on the plane and you often have to pay for one.
  • Headphones. Want to hear the movie that’s playing on your plane? That will be $5 or $10.
  • Seat assignments. Do you want to be able to make a choice about where on the plane you’re going to sit? Maybe you want an aisle seat or a window seat rather than a seat stuck in the middle of two strangers? Not a problem … just expect to pay for it.
  • Reservation changes. You can’t change your reservation these days without incurring big fees. Too bad if your plans changed at the last minute; the airline will charge you anyway and then free up your seat and charge someone else to sit there, too.

It Would Be One Thing if We Were Getting Good Service …

All of these fees would almost be acceptable if we were getting stellar service on our flights. But in fact, the issues associated with these fees are causing more harm than good. For example:

  • Fees for checked baggage are slowing down flight loading times. People don’t want to pay to check bags so more people are trying to carry on luggage. There’s not enough room on the plane for all of this luggage so some passengers have to disembark, get a tag for their bags and have it loaded on under the cabin anyway. Then they have to collect the baggage when the plane lands. This whole process slows down the time it takes to get on and off the plane.
  • Discomfort on cold airplanes. Have you noticed that planes are often kept chilly and you find yourself paying for a blanket that you don’t even want?
  • Airplane overbooking. Although this isn’t directly related to the fees, it’s a problem that we shouldn’t have to deal with. What it means is that planes are allowed to overbook their flights and then ask people to wait in the airport for another flight since the plane is full. Sure, you get a small voucher for a flight later but is it worth it?

You Can Make Change with Your Money

The way that you spend your money sends a major message to service providers. Make changes to these exorbitant fees and bad airline service by doing the following:

  • Don’t fly by plane. If people aren’t booking flights at all, the airline will have to make some changes. Take road trips, buses and trains until you see a change.
  • Book flights by true value instead of lowest ticket cost. Do your research to learn about the fees charged by various airlines. Choose airlines that may have higher initial ticket prices but charge fewer fees. You get more value for your money, spend less in total and send an important message to the airlines.
  • Don’t pay for the extras. Remember to pack your own headphones, blanket and pillow. Carry your own snacks. Prepare in advance to pay as few fees as possible and the airlines will get the message.