priority boarding

A quick trip on Southwest Airlines reminded me of the one thing legacy carriers don’t offer any of their fliers — consistency.

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Even as Southwest has followed other carriers into the add-on fee maze, the airline has largely kept it pretty simple. Until now. Their latest boarding offer has even some travel industry veterans confused.

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As the travel industry keeps coming up with new and creative ways to separate passengers from extra dollars, one of the airline industry’s ideas — priority boarding — has been taken over by an unlikely competitor, Greyhound.

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Now that most major airlines in the U.S. have figured out how to charge for just about everything short of the lavatories – and trust me, that could be coming – an airline ticket has become the equivalent of the base price in an automobile ad. By the time you add up the final bill, the price is a lot higher.

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Don’t get me wrong, I find airline service cuts as maddening as anyone. And I can whine with the best of them when things go wrong during travel. But it does seem like in many cases of cranky travelers, the problem increasingly may be unrealistic expectations.

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The boarding process is no one’s favorite part of a trip. First there’s the tension of “will we actually start boarding or will there be a problem?” Then there’s the crush of people who always jam the gate area, regardless of their boarding priority. Once travelers finally make it into the Jetway and onto the […]

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One hot trend in the airline service fee business, is paying for better seats and or earlier boarding. Offers range from Southwest’s $10 priority boarding fee, to a sliding scale of charges Delta and Northwest have for aisle or window seats towards the front, to the fees that can top $100 on United for economy plus seating.

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