5 Stages of Airline Fee Grief

Now it dawns on us that fees aren't going away and there's nothing we can do about it. Occasionally we'll read about an airline that gets its comeuppance when it violates a DOT transparency rule about disclosing bag fees upfront - Mexican airline Volaris was recently hit with a $130,000 fine - but, we'd be a lot less depressed if someone could guarantee that fine won't be shoved back to us via higher ticket prices.

Airlines try to jolly us out of these moods by disguising fees with 'games' such as Etihad Airways' online auction for better seats (yes, you pay for this privilege) or KLM's Meet & Seat so you can find simpatico seatmates on Facebook (no fee but you pay by wading through endless legalese where you promise not to do anything nasty and your intended seatmate could still reject you).

5. Acceptance

For the most part, we accept that fees are here to stay; you only have to look at new figures from the Dept. of Transportation to understand this. Despite a drop in the number of passenger in the first quarter of this year, airlines collected more in bag fees - about $815 million - than in the fourth quarter of last year - $792 million.

Along with acceptance, though, we've learned to play the game: if we're close to elite status, we stay loyal to our airlines to ensure a flow of perks like free bags; we apply for the branded-credit cards that give us freebies like early boarding; we upgrade with miles instead of money; we fly JetBlue and Southwest for the baggage allowance; and we always, always pack light - or we should!

Finally, good news and bad news: Airlines are losing fewer bags - but should they be losing any in the first place? The bad news is, remember how US Airways CEO Parker said the airlines created the bin overload problem by charging checked-bag fees? There are only two solutions: getting rid of checked-bag fees or adding carry-on fees. Which way do you think they'll go?

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