Delta CEO Richard Anderson, a familiar face in these parts because of his tenure at Northwest Airlines, declared today that airline fees are here to stay because you want them.
Appearing on CNBC, Anderson said the fees allow for cheaper fares.
“Consumers want choice and consumers want to pay for their own desires in terms of how they specify a product, so I think you’ll see a lot more unbundling not just in the airline business, but also in all consumer businesses,” Anderson said.
There’s another reason they’re not going away, of course. They make airlines filthy rich.
Delta has so much cash now that it announced today it’ll spend $5 billion buying back its own stock.
Meanwhile, a father of a 4-year-old is calling on Delta to change their fee structure.
Frank Strong says the airline put him too many rows away from his daughter on a recent flight and wanted him to pay $88 to sit closer.
After checking in online, and then again at the ticketing kiosk, Strong says he was still unable to secure a seat next to his daughter, so he approached the ticketing counter.
“The gate agents exchanged knowing glances – they obviously had seen this before – and suggested I go to the gate. They said maybe they could fix the problem for me for free, otherwise I could pay $88 to get our seats together right away,” he says. “I did that, because I didn’t want to have to worry about what might happen at the gate.”
After $1,200 for tickets, and another $88 for seat changes, Strong boarded the plane only to see that there were plenty of empty seats. “This never should have happened in the first place,” he wrote last week in a blog post about the incident. “No parent holds a higher responsibility — or more deeply visceral instinct — than keeping their child or children safe. That’s hard to accomplish 11 rows away when the fasten seat belt sign is glowing.”
Strong says the airline is taking advantage of its customer base.
Now that American and US Airways have merged, four airlines control 80 percent of the country’s commercial aviation market.