This is part one of probably a two part series of posts about summer travel, specifically relating to airline travel.

As we head into the summer and people are getting out of school many are starting to think about their summer travel plans.  Some people will travel for summer jobs, some just for fun, and some for visiting friends and family.  Most people who are traveling more than across a state or two will probably make their journey by air.  However, this is getting harder and harder every day.  Sure, it is still cheaper and generally more convenient than driving long distance, but the airline industry is out of control.

What made me start to think about this?  It all started when I was talking to my dad about flying home the night before he left this weekend.  There are two direct flights from SLC to BOS every day on Delta.  My dad had originally booked his tickets on the evening flight but wanted to change to the morning.  For this, the airline wanted to charge not only a change fee but an additional $400.  Now, obviously they had seats available, one would think that it is more important to fill the seats.  What accounts for the $400 difference?  This just further illustrates the fact that when you get on a plane you could be sitting next to a person who paid double what you did and the person on your other side may have paid half of what you paid.

The major airlines are already changing ridiculous fees on tickets.  I want to know what the actual cost per passenger is on a full commercial flight.  If an airline like Delta has standard routes that they fly at the same time every day like the SLC to BOS route, why isn’t there a standard price?  The planes fly whether or not all the seats are sold and there is no way to know in advance if a flight will be full.  So why are ticket prices so variable?  The cost per person doesn’t really change on a day-to-day basis.

Then of course consider the fact that on the major airlines there is nothing that you are not charged for.  It is a wonder that you still get a free beverage!  Why are travelers penalized for bringing their luggage on the plane?  Why should we have to pay for every bag we take.  Some airlines have even started to charge for carry-on bags.  Why shouldn’t I be allowed to take my clothes on my trip with me?  Maybe the airlines just want everyone to fly naked?  I am sure that would make TSA’s job easier!

I just read that now the major airlines want to start charging a “Summer Flights” surcharge.  From the articles I have seen this charge could range from $10-$50 per ticket.  Like every other aspect of ticketing, this fee will be variable depending on your travel date, when you book your flight, what airline, where you are going, and how your ex-roommate’s second-cousin’s sister-in-law is feeling.  It doesn’t actually cost more to fly in the summer, in fact one would think that since more people travel in the summer the planes are more likely to be full so it should get cheaper to fly!

This is obviously the time when some of the “smaller/budget” airlines may get the chance to shine.  I will be flying this summer and I am booked on Southwest Airlines who still has pretty standard pricing, they let you take two checked bags for free, and they do a good job.  As far as I know they also won’t be adding on a summer surcharge.  Of course one of the best things about Southwest is the fact that they don’t have penalties for changing your flight beyond the difference in ticket price (if there is one).

It is really right that someone’s greed for money drives the airline industry?  Did anyone stop to think that people might be more inclined to fly more often if prices were more standard and not designed to screw over the travelers?  What about giving the traveler the freedoms and benefits that we used to get insted of charing us for every little thing on the flight?  Why does it have to be so damn difficult?