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À la carte pricing not flying with passengers

When we asked readers what they thought of the "unbundling" of airline services, many were displeased.
Flight Attendant Offering Coffee
Would you like a cup of coffee on your flight? It'll likely cost you extra.© Royalty-Free/Corbis
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American Airlines recently announced that beginning in 2009, it would imitate the a la carte pricing plan of Air Canada by offering a basic fare and allowing travelers to select additional services for extra fees.

But when we asked readers what they thought of the "unbundling" of airline services, many were displeased. "This is absolutely ridiculous!  Next they will charge us for oxygen on the airplane," wrote dcarey.

Some worry this is only the beginning of additional fees. "I will not be surprised if airlines begin selling magazines, or charging $20 for carry-on baggage, $5 to use the overhead bin, or $2 per restroom visit, and a few bucks for post-flight trash disposal and interior cleaning fee — regardless of whether you fly coach, business, or first class," said km-452746.

But not everyone had a negative reaction to American Airlines’ announcement. "I honestly don't have a problem with this," said Hank-618601. "In Europe, when you buy a train ticket, you are buying a seat only and sometimes you are not even guaranteed a seat. ... Anything else you want on board that train, you must pay for separately.  Why shouldn't air travel be the same?"

Read on for more reader responses.

Here's my problem: I am use to packing light and bringing a carry on to not check a bag,  bringing my own snacks, my own headsets, and my own pull over for when it is cold (and when I need to use it as a pillow). When though is the other shoe gonna fall and I start getting money back for missed flights, delayed flights, sitting on the tarmac for an hour, crabby desk personnel, and flight attendants that just don't care anymore? — scott robo

I agree that passengers should be charged for their own weight plus their carry-ons ... a discount for under 200 and charges for over 200 per pound.  Here's a suggestion for additional fees I haven't seen:  Put a credit card swiper on the lavoratory door ... charging by the minute. — edwcaudilljr

It makes it difficult for the business traveler. Our corporate policy is set to make our traveling as inexpensive as possible for the company. I doubt they will pay for me to select a seat ahead of time, so I'll probably be stuck in the middle seat for the rest of my life. —mk-426850

As long as Southwest avoids a la carte pricing, I'll fly Southwest whenever possible simply because it is much easier and I already know Southwest usually has the lowest fair and very good service. It has been a rare flight on American, that has included what I would call good service. And, I've flown on American for nearly 1 million miles. — Merrill-287190

I flew in late August and was charged for checked bags and for changing a seat. Let the airlines drown in 'innovations'; oil prices have dropped but their fares have not and nickel and diming the consumer may backfire.  — MaryN-618412

If everyone asked for a printed receipt for each and every thing they had to pay for, it would put an abrupt stop to this practice. Those who travel on business (their most lucrative business) need to fill out expense reports. We need those dated receipts! I'm still waiting for someone to sue over lost baggage. The additional fee implies that such items are covered under a contract separate from the contract of carriage. — Buckeye Voter

I'm not entirely opposed to nickle-and-diming. However, I am opposed to saying that it is a deal when it really isn't. Call a spade a spade. If they think we're that stupid, then so be it. I'll be too busy flying Southwest Airlines and loving it. — Consultant & Frequent Traveler

I think SWA will become the dominant carrier in 5 years.  If anyone is traveling for a stay over a few days, they will have to check a bag and maybe even drink some water to prevent dehydration during a flight. American, Delta, and NW are loser airlines. UAL is following closely.  Cash your miles now! — Brian Peterson

If this is true (and I wouldn't put it past them), then I'm done with AA. I'm sure that someone (Continental perhaps?) will be happy to gain an Executive Platinum business flier.  — MCC-436349

This new wrinkle of charging for beverages and blankets etc., is only the beginning. I'm waiting for prices to include taking off and landing fees. After all since ticket does not specifically say landing and taking off perhaps it should be charge extra like blankets. ... It's getting expensive, but it's getting so ridiculous it's almost comical. — Unit Price Flying in Seattle

American is a dinosaur and is desperately trying to woo customers via the oldest trick in the book (bait and switch).  They'll advertise a low base rate, then charge you extra for every little service. — HAHA HAHA

Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"?  At the very least the airlines should consider what the customers want rather than take actions that are going to cause them to consider alternatives ie other airlines, or not flying at all.  People can really cut back when they want to. — CE-619675