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Middle of the Pack
April 27, 2016

As if flying in coach isn’t bad enough, the airlines are now trying to squeeze every last drop of blood out of a stone they can get by charging extra for the window and aisle seats.

According to the New York Times, it’s getting harder and harder for flyers to avoid it. That is, unless you want to pay.

Ironically, as if any seat in economy is so much ‘better’ than the other legroom-less choices – the airlines are now considering the window and aisle seats as ‘luxury’ items and seeking to monetize them.
This comes hard on the heels of the Senate’s  rejection of regulation of seat sizes, (voting 42-54 to throw out Senator Chuck Schumer’s amendment introducing minimum seat sizes and distances between airline seats). The airlines are now heady with victory and piling on fees.

The dreaded middle seat – tight space, no view and no exit

The airlines now want to make you pay to avoid what they think is the worst seat on the plane, the middle-seat in basic economy class.

So, all seats are shrinking but you’ll be charged more – and once the seat is so small only half of your posterior will fit in it, they’ll require you to buy two seats, as well as an extra fee for the window or aisle.

This new fee is yet another indication that the airlines are not translating savings from a year’s decline in fuel prices into lower ticket prices.
Southwest Follows The Leader
In a disappointing show of follow-the-leader, the once-passenger-friendly Southwest is jumping on the bandwagon.
Southwest, which doesn’t assign seats, recently increased the price of its early boarding by 20 percent. 
It now charges passengers $15 each way to board the plane first – which is supposed to improve your chances of  an aisle or window during the seat scramble. Why not just charge for checked bags and stop this pussyfooting around with seats?
Southwest’s early check-in charge lets you get a boarding number online 36 hours before the flight instead of 24. Why not 48 hours, as most people are more likely to be awake then, at a time corresponding to their flights?  If you have a 2 PM flight, why should you have to be online at 2 AM to get your paid-for advantage?

Consumers have little choice but to accept the hike because the major airlines control more than 85 percent of the US travel market, following multiple high-profile mergers.

The New York Times reports that a number of travelers have resorted to bribing passengers to swap seats with drinks, or even buying two seats to avoid being squashed next to someone.
Would you pay more to avoid the middle seat?
(courtesy: DP)

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