Nickel and Diming, It's Not Just for the Airlines

Posted by William Herp on Fri, Oct 05, 2012

I don’t mind negotiating the price that I’ll pay for some items, like my home, or my car. Truth is, I kind of like the negotiating process. But the reality is that most products and service Americans buy are sold at set prices. Tax typically is extra, but that’s it. And that’s the way we at Linear Air price our product. The price we quote you is the amount you pay, which includes tax by the way.

That’s the way our customers like it. That way they can make a simple decision based on the price of the service and the value they perceive it to have for their busy lives – with no surprises. But most of the companies with which we compete can’t really say that; not with a straight face anyway.

Imagine eating a great steak at a well-reviewed restaurant only to find when the waiter brings the bill that in addition to the menu price of your steak, your bill includes a “15% cattle feed fee,” a “$10 chef’s service fee,” and a “variable beef transportation surcharge.”

You’d be outraged, and not just because of the extra $25 or $30 you’d have to plop down. You’d be upset about being asked to pay more than you thought you’d have to pay based on the price quoted in the menu. Plus, you would recognize instantly that the restaurant is playing you for a fool by charging for “extras” that aren’t really even extra, and by calling a price hike some other name in order to trick you into buying a steak that you might not have ordered had you known its true price.

Of course, that would never happen (I hope) in a real restaurant. But if you’ve flown on commercial airlines in the last few years, you know that is exactly the way most of them operate now. The price of your ticket gets you aseat, though it’ll cost you as much as $50 or $60 more to get the seat you really want. If you want to take more than two days clothes with you, that’ll be $25 more (each way) for that bag you’ll have to check. Some airlines, like Spirit, even charge for carry-on bags nowadays. Hungry? You can pay an extra $11 for a stale sandwich and a couple of Oreos. Sleepy? It’s an extra $5 for a pillow or blanket? Merely checking in can cost extra on some airlines. And some charge more for buying online, while others ding you for buying your ticket over the phone.  It’s called ancillary revenue, and it’s all the rage these days in the transportation business.

What's more, the airlines aren’t the only ones doing it. Most of the companies involved in selling, leasing or chartering private jets do it too, even if they try to downplay or even disguise it.  For example, a company called JetSuite charges a variable "airport fee" - which usually means the fees charge by an airport to land and park - but is instead really a charge for aircraft flight time to position an airplane to a particular airport, and is often quite a large percentage of the total trip cost – as much as a third or more.

Most charter operators show positioning flight time as a separate charge or a by having a higher hourly rate, and don't attempt to hide these charges by implying it is a regulatory or administrative fee.  JetSuite is leading customers to think their cost per flight hour is lower than competitors when in fact their real cost per flight hour is higher.

 

At another company, you can spend $109,000 for 25 flight hours on a “light jet” roughly the same size – and with the same flight characteristics – of Linear Air’s Eclipse Jets.  If you think that’s a bit pricey – especially in comparison with what you would pay for a similar amount of flying with Linear Air – how will you react when you get an additional bill that includes a hefty fuel surcharge, a catering fee, and an aircraft repositioning fee? And, if you happen to have a leasing or ownership interest in that aircraft, you can also expect to get monthly bill for your share of the storage and maintenance and maintenance costs, and for the property taxes assessed on it.

Not only will your private jet transportation costs be significantly higher than what you thought you were signing up for, you probably will feel like you’re being “nickeled and dimed” for all the not-so-special “extras” that weren’t included in the advertised price.

Our promise at Linear Air is that you won’t be nickeled… or dimed. When we say we offer private air taxi service from the airport nearest you to the airport nearest your actual destination for a price that’s often competitive with first class airline service – and a lot faster and more hassle free – we mean it. That’s not a low ball advertising price designed to lure you in so we can hit with lots of extra fees later that fatten our profits. And you’ll still get the personal and friendly attention of our professional staff and pilots – for no extra fee.

See you on board.


 

Tags: airlines, air taxi, private jet charter

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