If you have flown during the past 5 years you have probably come across ancillary fees. The term is associated with the “add-on’s” the traveling public once has taken for granted including luggage check, meal service and even overhead bin-space.
Travel agents and consumers alike have been frustrated not necessarily with the fees which have become commonplace; instead it is the accounting of the fees as the ticket price offered has become similar to the base-price for a car before adding options.
The tracking of ancillary fees is important for two reasons. For many business travelers, when a flight is booked, the expense report may show the base price of the ticket. However if the passenger adds luggage check and an exit-row seat, these added fees may or may not be presented on the ticket cost. Thus expense reporting and reimbursement can be cumbersome.
However as the tracking and disclosure of ancillary fees reaches the mainstream consumer who may book direct with the airlines or a 3rd party reseller i.e. Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, there will be an added benefit and that is accountability in terms of “proof of purchase”. Let us assume a flier opts to purchase an upgraded seat but their original flight is canceled and they are rebooked on another flight. The tracking and receipt of the fee(s) will show the passenger is entitled to an upgraded seat on the new flight or to a refund if the new aircraft cannot accommodate the request.
While rare I encountered this issue with a client concerning a flight within the past year. The original flight was on an Airbus aircraft which was cancelled due to a mechanical issue. The replacement plane was a Boeing aircraft. Due to the change of aircraft configuration the client’s “premier seating” could not be accommodated. The client had paid an additional $35.00 for the premier seating option. Long story short, it took over a month and review of credit card billing statements to reconcile the refund of the $35.00.
At present the ancillary fee service tracking is only offered to travel agents using the Travelport and Amadeus Global Distribution Systems for their clients. However transparency and tracking of ancillary fees for all passengers regardless of booking venue will most likely become standard within the next year as airlines integrate the fee structures into the major Global Distribution Systems.
Unfortunately once ancillary fees are loaded into the GDS, time will only tell if the airlines practice yield management concerning the ancillary fees as they have done with ticket pricing. I can just envision it now; varied fees for checked luggage depending on destination and season. I can see it now, winter flights to Vail when passengers pack bulky ski clothes are charged one fee while those traveling to Mexico with their warm weather attire are charge a lesser fee due to less weight and bulk. Oops, I just gave the airlines a new option for additional fees and tariffs.