On the pricing of airline tickets

What a surprise I had a few weeks ago, when I was searching for a ticket to travel once again to Sao Paulo. Of course, my carrier of choice is Air Canada, not only because I’m a member of their Aeroplan frequent flyer program, but also because overall, they are one of the finest airlines around. I’ve also flown with some of the US Star Alliance partners, and believe me, Air Canada is above and beyond in service, both onboard and on the ground (most of the time).

I receive their weekly emails, right on the dot every single Wednesday, where they tell me all about the current promotions to all their destinations.

I was expecting my flight to Sao Paulo to be in the range of 900-1100 dollars, or 50,000 aeroplan miles. When I checked into the website, I did indeed get a great fare, around 700-800 dollars, or 50,000 miles, whichever I wanted. Having done all that, and at the moment to do the actual purchase, the fare jumped by another 400+ dollars. I’m always aware of the multitude of extra fees that are charged on an airline ticket. Security fee, airport improvement fee, Navigation fees, you name it. Yet this time I did notice one important change. The very intriguing fuel surcharge. Around 300 dollars for fuel.

It’s the first time that I actually sat down to analyze this charge. 300 dollars. Since when did fuel become an extra fee to travel. So what exactly does my airline ticket entitle me too. Should we pay extra fees for flight attendant serving breakfast, or for that matter, the already mentioned navigation fee. Isn’t that part of their cost of doing business, paying Navcan for the navigation fees of their aircraft? Wouldn’t you think that navigation and fuel are basic expenses the airline should include on the price of the tickets. Evidently this is one of those cases of deceiving marketing practices that somehow have become the norm.

How come this costs are not included in the advertised price for the ticket? And, have you ever noticed how this extra fees never tend to go down. They’ve been implemented as temporary, yet they always stay in place. Just like income tax, they are here to stay.

Why is it that they can’t tell you, the ticket is 1400 dollars? It’s not like we have a choice! Most of the time we are stuck in the pricing the airlines set. I know, airlines are not the best business in the world, I do understand that, but by not being transparent in their pricing, and especially in the reason those long delays happen and nobody is willing to tell us why, the airlines face their biggest challenge, they’re incapable of surging in client service. I’m not asking for much. Just let us know upfront how much it costs and what’s happening when we sit in a 30 degree (celsius) cabin with no air conditioning and no end to the delay on-sight.

By the way, don’t try to save a few dollars by travelling on another airline without checking how much per bag you will pay. That, they don’t share with us. Sneaky, sneaky.

Anyway, let me check the website, maybe something has changed since….. Not, it didn’t. Not so temporary fees after all.

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