While Christmas appears to be coming early this year for the big airlines, passengers frequently are getting nothing but a big lump of coal.
As your recent articles starkly reveal, the airlines are pulling in record profits and fees — $82 billion by the end of 2017 from nonticket “ancillary” revenues paid by passengers, a 264 percent increase from 2010.
Worldwide, North American airlines with fewer than a quarter of the total flights now account for nearly half of total airline profits.
The airlines are publicly lauding the benefits they will reap from the tax proposal currently being debated by Congress. With $82 billion in new fees and record profits, it doesn’t appear that much sharing is going on. But then again, these are the same folks who sometimes drag passengers off flights and reduce seat space to physically unsafe levels just because they can.
At least the airlines must be reinvesting these billions back into their infrastructure, right? No. Just last week, we learned that a major ”glitch” left nearly 15,000 holiday flights without assigned pilots.
Similar high-profile IT failures and debacles occur on average at least once a month. Now these same airlines are lobbying to run air traffic control so they can control taxes, fees and routes.
Considering their dubious record, entrusting them with this responsibility would officially make every aspect of our traveling experience miserable, inefficient and potentially unsafe.
The best gift the airlines could give all of us this holiday season is to get their own house in order. Instead, passengers will continue to get a lump of coal, and will likely have to pay extra fees for it.
Linda Sherry, Washington, D.C.
Director, National Priorities for Consumer Action