Airlines make $2 billion a year off cancellation fees: report
By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance
It’s pretty easy to pick on airlines these days. It really is.
Everyone generally hates them, and we’ve all got a story about how their staff was rude or they’d lost our luggage or they sat us next to Mo’Nique on a trip with no in-flight meal.
But goodness, how can an industry so generally despised by its consumers stay afloat, let alone post the kind of mad-cash-cow numbers airlines do?
Well, here’s a start.
We all knew airlines ripped us off with fees and charges, sure, yet new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows just how ridiculous the big picture is.
According to the Wall Street Journal, airlines make a “whopping” $2 billion on change and cancellation penalties each year alone from passengers adjusting or modifying their travel itineraries.
That the fees for changes or cancellations are big business is no surprise, but given that it’s usually jacked-up baggage fees that draw our ire, it’s certainly notable.
The airlines will tell you the change and cancellation penalties are to give travelers incentives to purchase full-fare, unrestricted tickets and to limit no-shows, though they likely won’t tell you that – despite the PR spin – the fees are still going up.
The WSJ reports “several” airlines have raised the change fee on domestic tickets up to $150 from $100 this year, and JetBlue just “imposed a $100 change fee, up from $40, for reservations made online.”
What really stinks about the change and cancellation fees, too, is how uniquely unfair they are to airlines.
Theatre and sports tickets are non-refundable, yeah, but unlike with airlines, they can be transferred to friends or family. And even with hotels and restaurants – who can sometimes charge you a fee for cancelling a reservation – you can typically call it off up until 24 hours before the date.
Anyhow, just thought this was all food for thought. We need to plan better, I guess, but – when a meeting changes or we get sick or have a family emergency -- it’s interesting to finally quantify how much airlines do make off us when we’re most vulnerable.
Posted by: Air Traveler | Aug 6, 2021 7:43:21 AM
I think you got it right that the frustrating part is you can't transfer your ticket if you can't use it. I don't see why you shouldn't be able to do that. I always dread having to fly but you gotta do what you gotta do i guess. I try to use the tips from http://www.chimpout.com/forum but you can't always use them unfortunately
Posted by: Upset Reader | Aug 6, 2021 10:54:29 PM
Do not go to the link for chimpout.com I did and found a disgusting white supremist type of website forum. I think it is disgusting for "Air Traveler" to direct people to this type of site when, from their message, it appears to be a site for tips on air travel/fees/etc.
Posted by: George White. | Aug 8, 2021 4:24:56 PM
Air Canada have to big the big loser, on a long flight from Hong Kong I was threatened with arrest, because I objected to being told to SHUT UP by a female attendant, who literally shoved a Cup of Dry noodles in my hand. The NEW immigrant next to me was so traumatized that he hid under his blanket for the rest of the 13 hour flight.
NWA come in close second when the grouchy attendant would not move her trolly that was blocking my exit to the wash room. After ten minutes listening to her banter with a passenger, she scowled, Do you think you are someone special. Maybe she had been laid off..........after landing she proceeded to scream at someone on her cell 'phone.
I am flying again shortly with Korean Air...............I hope they have maintained their high level of professionalism.
Posted by: George White. | Aug 8, 2021 4:31:18 PM
I WISH ASIAN PASSENGERS WOULD REFRAIN FROM GYRATING IN THE PASSAGEWAY, WITH ARMS FLYING PAST THE HEADS OF SEATED PASSENGERS, ON LONG FLIGHTS. TOTALLY UNCARING ABOUT THOSE SEATED, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF US TRYING TO CATCH A FEW MINUTES OF SLEEP.
MAYBE IF WE HIT TURNBULANCE AND THEY WENT THROUGH THE CEILING THEY MIGHT LEARN TO SIT AND FASTEN THEIR SEAT BELTS..............I DO UN LESS I'M HEADING FOR THE WASH ROOM.
KEEP YOUR SEAT BELTS ON...PEOPLE.
Posted by: Happy To Serve RE: George | Aug 9, 2021 5:00:10 AM
Well George.....It seems that you don't have very pleasant experiences on any of your flights.
Perhaps the cabin crew are responding to the attitude that you are exhibiting onboard.
I've been flying the skies for 20 years now, and still enjoy it, even though the starting wage , on average, is at 1990 rates, and layoffs are quite common, on an annual basis. The average passenger, these days, has less than adequate manners and has an over inflated aura of self-importance. Very few know the simple words, "Please or Thankyou" and most have little or no consideration for their seatmate.....many arrive onboard the aircraft and do not even have the decency to respond when you say" Good Morning or Welcome Onboard"....they totally ignore you.
I know that I have done nothing to offend these people, yet, they feel they have the right to treat me with little or no respect and for no apparent reason.....Maybe try treating them with a little respect and you might be pleasantly surprised by the response....Happy Flying
Posted by: NitBits Nean | Aug 9, 2021 6:43:31 AM
The airlines can't cater to cheapskates in travel because of fuel costs and such. The real solution is the unthinkable, make planes fly on something other than petro persian gulf oil or kerosene or find another way to travel.
Posted by: Rod | Aug 9, 2021 10:13:34 AM
One of the problems with changing from 1 person to another is the security factor.A change of name means that the flight manifest and the APIS info (advaced passenger information security)must be reviewed at very short notice.With trans boarder flights to the USA and oveseas flights this is an issue.There is more to changing a ticket than travellers see.I am not for a minute condoning bad service or rude behaviour,however,having spent 25 years in the industry I can only say that it has deteriorated considerably since the advent on the Reagan /Mulroney open skies laws were implimented .The fact is there was better service and a better stronger industry prior to this regressive legislation.
The loss of various carriers over the years has been a disaster for the families of employees and the traveling public.Years ago one would recomend ones family memebers to join the industry.Today this is not happening as most employees stear there children to other work .The education level of employees was ( when I joined) a university degree and fleuency in a second language.This is no longer the case as the carriers cannot hire for the wages they are now paying.
Again I go back to the failure of "Open skies"
Posted by: Casey | Aug 9, 2021 10:48:05 AM
Remember the airline transport industry is in the business ofmoving people from one destination to another, and is not in the restaurant business,so if you do not like the food forget eating it. I notice
that about 95% of the people onthe plane are overweight and could miss a couple of meals.
When I encounter a rude airline employee,I remind them to go back to Charm School and learn
how to deal with people.
Generally I enjoy Air travel.
Posted by: bart | Aug 9, 2021 11:31:57 AM
why dont the airline companies post how much money they spend each year on shipping missplaced parcels back to people?
Posted by: Uff Travel | Aug 9, 2021 12:47:03 PM
It is a shame air travel has become so common and they let anyone on now. Not like the good old days when everyone dressed up to fly and the flight attendants wore white gloves. Now that let any riff raff on board.
Posted by: Dave | Aug 9, 2021 1:38:47 PM
George White...what a perfect name for a white guy who notices "Asians" flailing arms in aisles. Mr. White, every Asian country has its own culture, and within each of those cultures there are individuals who do not represent the entire community. Some of those individuals are rude, stupid, impatient travelers, confused individuals, tired, or simply not aware that you feel that your personal space has been invaded. If you don't like traveling to Asia, then you should stop. However, in my experience, it's better to try and understand other cultures and to pack the emotional tools you need to deal with it. Cheers and chill! Dave
Posted by: Iain | Aug 9, 2021 1:47:55 PM
Amazing. No one sees the point. The airline industry makes $2B a year just from cancellation fees. They sound like bankers, who earn equal income from service charges. The beauty of these types of revenues are that there is virtually NO COST to provide. You want to change your flight, click click, type a few letters, done. It takes seconds, and could easily be done by the consumer. But the airlines charge $150 to make this change. It is like banks charging a $10 account maintenance fee. What does the $10 do? How much does it COST to maintain my account. Let me try this again...we are being ripped off by an industry because they can. We mules go along with it, pay our money and grumble. When WE start saying no and responding with NOT handing over our money, they will change. There are just too many MULES who are ok with being controlled and dominated. Like religion, many people are too easily convinced that it is OK to be lied to. Think for a second about all the banks in the US who claimed insolvency and less than a year ago and needed bailout money to survive. Today, and this is a fact and available anywhere to confirm, these same banks are reaping their highest profits ever and are actually being LAUDED for the recovery efforts...huh...less than a year ago they were about to fail due to their leadership and now this same leadership is applauded for their management acumen? Come on...how about the Auto Industy...don't get me started...
Posted by: martin | Aug 10, 2021 3:43:40 AM
My original tickets allowed no modifications. I did not know that leaving out a segment of the itinerary counted as a modification.
I tried to save some money for an airline by purchasing one-way tickets to supplement travel plans to California from my destination in Florida where I had already used half of my existing return tickets from and to Europe. I was miffed when informed by a NWA agent that I would not be able to reboard my international return flight from elsewhere than my destination in Florida although I had cleared customs and immigration in Detroit. The cancellation fees for the one-way flights I had already bought on-line were punitive. And the return tickets I had to buy back to Florida were more than twice as expensive as the circuit trip.
Posted by: malarkey | Aug 12, 2021 1:43:02 PM
....it is entirely within this site's abilities to track RACIST comments and eliminate them.
i have watched this "gimpout" propaganda/advertising steadily grow across these forums/blogs.....unchecked.
one would think the condemnation for this crap would AT LEAST equal the malice freely shown towards less harmful comments on these forums.
and i wonder why.