So you’re standing in the check-in for your favourite lo-co airline and you’re feeling a bit antsy as the guy in front argues with the clerk about the three add-ons he didn’t notice in the booking conditions. A bit of you is thinking ‘sheesh, why don’t you just read that stuff’ and a bit is thinking ‘when are the airlines going to make that stuff clearer for people who don’t travel every week’. But what you’re not thinking is ‘ I bet he’s a travel columnist on US Today’. Which makes this piece all very odd.To quote USA Today: “David Grossman is a veteran business traveler and former airline industry executive.” Well, I like the paper and I’m sure that’s true. So David, here’s some help.
David writes, “the last thing I expected on Virgin America was a slew of surcharges padding the cost of my ultra-cheap ticket”. (Some of you may feel this is already sounding a bit strange.)
He notes: “My $39 one way ticket soon became $64.40 with taxes and fees and an “upgrade” to the exit row”.
OK, about those taxes and fees. David, if you go to the Virgin America home page you’ll see there is a message in the middle that says: “Restrictions, taxes and fees apply.” It’s quite prominent really and if you click on it you get a message saying precisely what those taxes and fees are.
Regarding the “upgrade” to the exit row – well, the clue’s in the name really.
David was also surprised by the $40 required to change his booked intinerary. Well, if you click again on that ‘restrictions, taxes and fees apply’ button, you’ll find a sentence that reads: “Changes or cancellations can be made for a fee of $40.”
Then there’s that $10 fee for checking a second bag. Well, the website has a FAQs section including one question that reads “How much baggage can I bring?” This bit in the answer is quite informative: “Additional bags: Bag two – $10 weighing up to 50 lbs.”
In fairness David did find some things about the product that he liked. Unfortunately it’ll probably be a good while before I get to fly Virgin America, but those goodies sound pretty neat to me. And in fact for David’s $110.40, they sound very neat indeed.