Additional fees charged by airlines continued to rise this week. United, US Airways, Delta, and American have all raised the fee they charge to change purchased tickets within North America from $150 to $200. This sizable increase may cause some travelers to think twice about switching flights, I know that would be the case for me. The airlines claim the increase is necessary to keep fares low amid increased competition. Southwest, however, the largest domestic airline, has yet to follow. The company still doesn’t charge a fee on top of any fare difference when switching flights.
Also this week, Frontier announced plans to charge for drinks on its flights beginning July 1. Travelers who purchase the airline’s cheapest and most popular discounted fares will have to pay $1.99 for soda (you get the whole can), juice, tea, and coffee (which will include refills). Non-discounted fares will still include free non-alcoholic beverages. In addition, Frontier will begin charging from $25-$100 per carry-on bag for travelers who purchase tickets through third party sites like Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity rather than through the company’s flyfrontier.com website. Frontier is calling the beverage and carry-on fee customer enhancements, although it’s hard to tell how either actually improves anything about the Frontier experience.
Customers may not be too happy about the changes. Several years ago, US Airways attempted to charge for drinks, which the company quickly dropped after much complaining by travelers. United tried a similar move in the mid-2000s with a plan to test a buy-on-board meal service for transatlantic flights from Washington Dulles. Travelers mounted an aggressive campaign against United and the airline relented. We’ll see if history repeats itself or perhaps Frontier can force its customers to pay for water on its flights in the long-term.