Of course, we're all aware that the experience I described yesterday with having to cancel and rebook an air fare is only the tip of the iceberg where airlines' gouging of customers is concerned - less space, higher prices, baggage fees, fee fees, and the like. Travel writer Christopher Elliott recently mentioned some more novel ones, such as playing up the fact they separate out fees for "transparency," even though you often can't see the fees until after you have booked (and good luck with trying to get a refund then!); or Delta's recent new class of service, the "completely nonrefundable" ticket.
Elliott's point in the article is that airlines, as well as car rental companies, hotels, and others who "serve" travelers, not only impose charges for "features" that no one is demanding, but seek to justify them as "benefits." This is a very old and very common marketing technique, but often the claims have been laughably thin. As the writer notes regarding the efforts hotels are making to block you from using any networks but their in-house one (for which they charge exorbitantly), they would like to have you believe they want to "jam your cellular hotspot for your own good."
Whether these companies' silly claims are believable or not, the bottom line on many of these "benefits to consumers" actually is in fact, the bottom line -- they are immensely profitable.
Most of us just accept this kind of gouging without complaint or comment. I wonder why. Do we feel we have no other choice?
I'm particularly perturbed by a travel writer (i.e. and e.g. Mr. Elliott) who can write about these things and offer the wimpy advice to examine the claims and ask yourself, "who benefits?" By implication, we should ask ourselves, but not the companies themselves. Consumers and travelers KNOW who benefits, Mr. E, but as a "consumer advocate," as the blurb at the bottom of your column characterizes you, what are you doing to advocate?