Who are the pickpockets prowling your city's airport?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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If you take the word f-r-e-e and rip the "r" out of it, what do you get? Two things, actually: One, instead of "free" you get "fee" – and then you get mad.

This is happening to millions of airline passengers who're discovering that the advertised price of a ticket is not the half of it. Beaucoup fees have been added, charging us for items that previously were (and still should be) free. People's rage-ometers zing into the red zone when they see that these fees-for-former-freebies will often more than double the cost of a trip.

Like diabolical bankers did years ago, top executives of airline corporations have learned to goose up prices and profits (as well as their own pay) by nickel-and-diming customers. Only, their fees are way more than nickel and dimes. For example, if you schedule a flight, but something comes up and you have to change the time, day, or destination of your trip – BAM! – airlines zap you with a $200 fee. Basically for nothing! Computers quickly make the change, costing the corporation a mere pittance, but rather than graciously accommodating your need and making you a satisfied customer, they pick your pocket and make you angry.

Gouging and infuriating ticket buyers might seem like a poor business model for the long run, but airline CEOs these days insist that their duty is not to please consumers, but only to make their major stockholders happy by maximizing their short term profits. And, indeed, the ripoff is very lucrative for the corporate elite – airlines pocketed nearly $3 billion last year just from fees they charged passengers who needed to alter their flights.

To curtail this "Great American Plane Robbery," several senators have proposed a "FAIR Fees Act." For information contact Sen. Ed Markey's office: 202-224-2742 or www.markey.senate.gov.

"As Passenger Ire Rises, Bill Is Introduced to Restrict 'Ridiculous' Airline Fees," The New York Times, March 9, 2016.

"Reservation Cancellation/Change Fees by Airline 2015," www.rita.dot.gov, December 15, 2015.

"Airlines Are Swimming in Profits Thanks to Cheap Fuel, High Fees," www.time.com, January 21, 2016.

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