It’s annoying to run into a company that’s over-using an otherwise solid marketing tactic. For instance, up-sells are a good way to boost revenues while helping customers (e.g., Amazon’s “Customers who bought X also bought Y” feature). But not if you overdo it.
I got a reminder recently — the AirTran.com flight check-in process now has so many extra-fee add-ons, it feels like GoDaddy.com’s upsell-choked checkout process.
I hadn’t flown AirTran in over a year. I remembered them being a solid discount airline — cheap enough to counterbalance their poor on-time record from LGA to PHF.
Booking a ticket for a conference in Atlanta, I was surprised to find AirTran now charges for seating assignments. It was a nominal $6 each way, but it was the principle — AirTran had gone from no-frills discounter to the “let’s-gouge-the-customer” model of traditional airlines like USAir and American that charge fees for everything.
But the upsells didn’t end after they charged my card for the ticket.
Sure enough, when I checked in for my flight, I found I could upgrade to better seats for $10 or $49, or pay to check luggage. And for $10 (or $20?), I could board in the second boarding group. What used to take two or three clicks now took five or six, mostly clicking “No thanks” until I could actually print the boarding pass.
That’s not the “low low prices” brand I remembered about AirTran. If I’d opted for everything (the checked baggage, a first class seat on an 80-minute flight, the early boarding, and the assigned seating), the upsells could have added $200+ round-trip to my $169 round-trip ticket.
I’m obviously not AirTran’s best customer (like I said, I hadn’t flown them in over a year), but now I’m going to do my best to avoid flying AirTran unless I absolutely need a direct flight that Southwest can’t provide.
What’s your least favorite airline “service” fee?