- Congress is negotiating a bill that could strip airlines of their power to levy extra fees, such as for flight changes and extra baggage.
- If it passes, American Airlines would almost certainly remove the option for customers to change their ticket if they bought a non-refundable flight, CEO Doug Parker said.
- Major US airline companies, including American Airlines, currently charge a $US200 change fee for non-refundable flights.
- Parker said: “We – like the baseball team, like the opera – would say, ‘We’re sorry, it was nonr-efundable.'”
American Airlines is threatening to make customers who paid for non-refundable flights pay for a new one if they want to change the time.
Doug Parker, the airlines’ CEO, said according to the Associated Press: “We – like the baseball team, like the opera – would say, ‘We’re sorry, it was non-refundable.'”
Parker’s statement comes as the House and Senate negotiate a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, which would include clauses stripping airlines of their power to levy extra fees, including those for flight changes and extra baggage. The FAA reauthorization bill needs to be finalised by September 30.
Parker said that if the provision becomes law, American Airlines would almost certainly remove the option for customers to change their ticket if they bought a non-refundable flight – the cheapest fare.
Shannon Gilson, a spokeswoman for the airlines, told Business Insider on Friday following Parker’s comments: “The legislation, if passed, could change the products airlines offer to customers, like the ability to change a non-refundable ticket.
“Customers would still have the ability to adjust their itinerary if they purchase a refundable ticket.”
American Airlines currently charges a $US200 change fee on non-refundable domestic flights.
Parker said that it doesn’t cost the airlines $US200 to change a customer’s ticket, but stood by its extra charge.
He said, according to the Associated Press: “We knew that seat was going to be filled. It allowed us to do other things as we sold the rest of the aeroplane.
“If you want to change that, we have a new product but it’s going to cost you something because it cost us something.”
Many other major US airline companies also charge a $US200 change fee on non-refundable flights. Southwest Airlines, however, allows customers to change or cancel their tickets for free.
Airline companies have earned billions in extra fees in recent years.
US airlines received $US2.9 billion in flight change fees last year, with American Airlines earning the most out of all of them with $US878 million, the Associated Press reported.
Fees for checked baggage also brought airlines an extra $US4.6 billion last year, the Wall Street Journal reported – ten times more than the $US464 million those same fees reaped ten years ago.
The price of crude oil increased more than 50% over the past year, denting the profits of many airline companies. Companies across the industry have warned that the extra cost would be passed onto the customer in the shape of increased plane tickets and change fees.
American Airlines on Friday will also join Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in raising the fee of one checked bag from $US25 to $US30 in an industry-wide trend known as “unbundling.”
Unbundling is the practice of separating various costs of services like baggage check, security check, seat assignments, meals, wi-fi use, and early boarding into their own price points.
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