Fees, fees, and more fees when you fly

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Can air travel really get any worse? If you felt like a herd of cattle before, it looks like it's only going to get worse and worse. Sure, a ride on a airplane was probably never meant to be a luxurious experience. After all, it's just a method of transportation. On the other hand, for those who spend a zillion hours a year in airports and airplanes, a few small comforts seem in order.

But alas, it's not meant to be. Food? Not anymore. You might get a three cent package of pretzels. You might be able to buy a meal, but only if they haven't run out. Airplanes aren't meant to be restaurants in the air, but if you've spent several hours on a flight and then had to sprint through the airport to avoid missing your connecting flight, you might be just a little hungry. Too bad so sad if the soggy meals are gone by the time the flight attendant gets to you.

The norm in the air also seems to include dirty planes and rude employees. Don't forget about the filthy restrooms and the lack of soap and hand towels. Need a blanket or pillow? Not available on some airlines anymore. (That's okay, they're filthy too.)
But more fees? Of course. Surcharges for fuel costs are standard now and probably only going to rise in the future. Fees for landing at an airport during peak travel hours will probably be charged to fliers soon too. And now United Airlines is charging you a fee if you want to check more than one bag. No matter that you are prohibited from carrying all sorts of things in your carry-on. No matter that depending upon which airport you're going through and which security person looks at you, you might be told you have one too many "personal" items that you're trying to carry onto the plane.

Tough luck fliers. If you're flying United, you'll be paying $25 extra to check a second piece of luggage unless you fly a lot. And I mean a lot. So shut off your iPod. Shut your mouth. But open your wallet. (And be happy knowing that United estimates they'll bring in more than $100 million a year with this new charge.)

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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