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Airlines Secretly Cash in on Unused Tickets

With so much talk about airline fees lately, you might overlook perhaps the largest source of ancillary revenue for the industry — and a big headache for you — that lets airlines make money for nothing. A lot of it. ( More...

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chipper42 10
When I buy an non-refundable ticket, I understand what the word non-refundable means. However, I do not understand why the airline keeps the monies paid for taxes, security fees, etc. which clearly are not part of the airline base airfare but fees paid by the passenger and will not be paid to the taxing body as no passenger was carried on the flight. Shouldn't at least these taxes and fees be returned to the customer?
Chuck Me 5
Excellent point.
AccessAir 2
I started working at a Travel Agency in 1989. Back then you could get a refund if you supplied the airline with a signed Doctor's letter. You could not change your outbound flight but could pay a $75 fee to change the return portion. In 1991 American Airlines introduced valu pricing which allowed changes to both outbound and return flights and everyone else followed the same way (Monkey See Monkey Do!!). The changes fee was started at $35.. Then it went down to $25. The back up to $35 then up to $50. Then back up to $75 then $100 then to the present $150. Ther Doctor's letter will no longer work for a full refund, except oof course you are flying International. In the year 1996 was also the year that Delta Airlines halted 10% travel agency commissions. Monkey See Monkey Do prevailed. When Travel Agents tried to ban together to protest, they were thwarted by a rule Collusion against the airlines...Imagine that...So in March 2002 all agency commissions went to ZERO. However, the airlines continued to bypass us and now, as pointed out, everything that your airline ticket used to pay for has been un-bundled and offered ala carte. The airlines refuse to raise fares to a realistic level for fear they will lose business. Funny that Southwest has no problem keeping their fares realistic. So this is why we now have to pay for Baggage, Seats, Meals and anything else that they can think to charge us for. Back in 1989, the only taxes collected were federal excise of 8%. Now we have federal excise, segment fees, 9/11 fee, airport facility fees as well as any taxes relating to International tickets. There is also a clever little Qtax now added which is the way airlines hide the Fuel Surcharges they need. Being an Agent I see the Qtax in the fare quote and on some tickets it can exceed the cost of the actual airline ticket....Those Qtaxes should also be refunded as they are quite substantial!!!!! I love airlines and airplanes but the DOT has just screwed up thew whole industry....Please bring back the Civil Aeronautics Board and some more anti-trust regulation.
Well, this makes up for the $29 ticket that the consumer wants. It's a business...
sparkie624 2
You get what you pay for.... Read before you buy. and how about that unused seat that the person with this ticket was supposed to use. Not it is sold, and possibly not making money now. If you buy a ticket. tough luck, read the details.
Paul Smith 2
I really don't understand why people are complaining... Flying is expensive.... Very expensive for Airlines... They sink Billions of dollars into this business and we all act like its something easy they could make money off of when its not.They hardly make money off of one flight flown, if i'm not mistaken one flight hardly pasts the break even point on profits... Its a tough economy and we complain about every little thing yet we still fly. Give them a break for once because we would not be the world we are today without Air Transport. If you don't like flying with the public then buy a private jet or cough up extra money for a First Class ticket. Otherwise Please fasten your seats and turn off all your electronic devices.
sbirch 3
The issue Paul is that ancillary revenue is a broad term that is masquerading as unbundling of services that were previously provided for free. These are not supplemental or new offerings that innovation brought to market - this is the fleecing of the American public into paying ala carte for services that are considered part of doing business. It is deceptive and insulting to the consumer.
AccessAir 2
I couldnt agree more with your statements...
neal joh 2
You idiots dont understand that flying is a lot cheaper than it was in the 80's. The airlines are loosing their ass, having to consolidate and, youre bitching about $30. I think its way too cheap and, they need to raise prices. Flying is a privilege not a right.
Were their asses tight that they had to loose them?
Wingscrubber 1
Is 'cheaper' really the word you were looking for? That's not what the history books seem to be recording...
The prices have been increasing due to fuel cost, which has a knock-on effect on ticket price, that together with union bartering and other demands are what have pushed the airlines to become the cash-snatching monsters they are now to make any money on tickets.
Competition between the airlines will mean the lowest bidder for a given route generally gets the passenger - they can go ahead and raise their prices, but they won't sell any tickets, the competition will take the money instead.
JetMech24 1
YES, he meant cheaper, the number itself has gone up, but relatively compared to prices a couple decades ago, he should be paying $5,000 a ticket to fly from CA to FL, relatively.
neal joh 1
And im sick of having to sit next to trash
Matt Molnar 4
Buy a private jet and you won't have to mingle with the genpop.
My heart bleeds for you.
joncon25 1
One can always purchase travel insurance which covers canceling your flight. Works for me.
Focus gentlemen, focus!
Read the statement did Mr. Ken Orloff: it's all about rights, consumer rights.
If the airlines don't give the service, they cannot keep the money.
gentlemen if you realy want to know about being ripped of with tickets come and live in the uk.
gary stevens 1
They generally also book a profit on a crash, since the insurance proceeds are often greater than the current depreciated value of the plane. It's called an "extraordinary gain".
Paul Smith 1
Everyone complaining is ridiculous... I fly because I love it and don't mind spending the money on something I enjoy... its an unforgettable experience & sight regardless of which end of the plane im sitting on.... If you expect first class service on an economy priced ticket then you got another thing coming... If you bought a non-refundable ticket don't expect to get your money back... I think alot of people think everyone owes them something when they don't... You wanna fly, pay for the ticket and don't complain... and if you have an issue with the economy service go to first class and get pampered... either way stop bashing airlines for every little single thing.... Its a business... not your personal chauffeur.
billhug -1
No, neal joh, flying is a business. You should look into fractional use of private aircraft because I'm sure you are too fancy for slobs like me to sit near. J e r k.
sbirch 2
Yes, flying is a business. So why do people like you and airline executives not understand the 80/20 rule applies over 100 years after its founding. 20% of the people (or 1% if you believe the current movement) can truly afford to fly. Ignore the rest and eliminate foolish ancillary revenue models that are unsustainable. It is not a business model that works, so they need to stop catering to the masses and focus on those who can afford it regardless of the economic situation - that is called running a business.
billhug 6
Two words for the 80%:

Bus Train

[This poster has been suspended.]

Paul Smith 6
From your comments I see you don't like airlines... and Safety is the number one concern because the people flying the planes have lives to live to. Maybe you shouldn't fly at all...


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