Rising airfare costs, added fees affect travel plans

first_imgStudents who typically fly home for the holidays are expressing frustration over increasing airfare costs and additional fees.Since last March, airfare prices for most U.S. carriers have increased between $10 and $60. In an effort to prevent ticket prices from increasing further, airlines are finding other ways to create revenue.Airlines have begun imposing extra fees on heavy-packing fliers, among other efforts to increase revenue.Continental Airlines and United Airlines now charge $400 for bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds for many international flights, while American Airlines charges $450 for overweight bags on its Asian-bound flights. For the first checked bag, Continental, American and United charge $25, and the fees increase to up to $200 by the third bag. These fees can be especially burdensome on college students with tight budgets.“I don’t think it’s that airlines are specifically targeting students, but it does turn out that way,” said Erica Zara, a junior majoring in psychology. “They’re trying to squeeze every dollar out of you that they can.”Zara said she flies back home to Las Vegas six to seven times a year.“I try to carry less bags, but if I’m going on a long trip, then I’ll wind up still paying for it,” Zara said. “What else can you do? Fuel costs are rising, and the economy is bad. It’s a tough time for everyone.”USC alumnus and transportation expert Alan Huynh, however, attributes the increased prices and the future rise in airfare to federal regulations.“Fees have increased because of different federal regulations imposed on airports,” Huynh said. “That is why they charge you $25 these days to carry on an extra item.”Any future tax increase will also affect the price of airplane tickets.“The corporate taxes will affect ticket prices,” Huynh said. “The airlines are businesses. These big businesses will be paying more taxes. They will pass those costs to customers.”Airlines were also hit hard by the closure of non-essential government services this summer.“A big thing that happened this summer is that the [Federal Aviation Administration] shut down,” Huynh said. “The federal government loses money whenever there is a federal shut-down, but there is more of an impact in that the government loses a billion dollars in ticket fees.”Though Huynh said he does not believe the government shut-down this summer is currently affecting ticket fees, which means taxes will only continue to increase.With the increased prices, students said they are doing all they can to cut back and get around the hidden fees.Zara said she has since switched from flying Spirit to Southwest because of bag fees. While Spirit charges $38 to $50 for the first checked bag and $45 to $50 for the second bag, Southwest does not impose any fees for the first two checked bags.Other students said they agree increased prices will play a role in what airline they choose.Thalia Ertman, a sophomore majoring in history and East Asian languages and cultures, said she looked for the lowest price when buying a ticket to fly home to Potomac, Md., for Thanksgiving this year.“I always try to find the cheapest flight there is when I go,” Ertman said. “I make sure to search around.”Some students said the increased fees also change the way they travel.“There have been times when I have made sure to carry on because they charge you all these ridiculous fees,” said Lydia Froemelt, a senior majoring in engineering management and industrial and systems engineering. “I try to choose airlines where you don’t have to deal with those extra charges.”Huynh said Southwest has been able to keep its prices down because of efficiency.“For Southwest, they are probably just eating the cost,” Huynh said. “They did all these things to cut costs off. They use a certain kind of airplane that is a more efficient airplane. They did that before everyone else figured it out.”But for most students traveling out-of-state, the costs are a burden. Flying is inevitable and students will pay what they have to in order to go home.“I only go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Froemelt said. “I pay whatever I have to because that’s the only time I see my family.”last_img

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