The US Airways $5 Booking Fee is “Relaxed”

I know, I know. I’ve been writing about US Airways way too much lately. I can’t help it if there’s a lot to talk about.

08_03_07 ussayrelaxI’ve seen a flurry of discussion in the last couple weeks about whether or not US Airways has done away with their $5 booking fee. The short version of the backstory (long one is here) is that US Airways added $5 to cost of most itineraries if booked on their website or through their call centers. Since most online travel agents charge a booking fee of their own, the net price when booked at usairways.com or an online travel agent was about the same. Of course, you could always go to Priceline and save $5 since they have no booking fee.

I received a handful of emails in the last week asking if that additional $5 has now disappeared. I checked my usual route, Long Beach to Phoenix, and sure enough it’s not there anymore. Hooray, right? Not so fast.

I spoke with the PR team and was told “We’ve relaxed it for now, although you might still find it on some US domestic and to-from Canada ticketing transactions.” Uh oh, so now it’s a game of hide-and-go-seek.

It may be there, it may not, but they certainly won’t tell you. At least we know it’s relaxed. Maybe that means it’s only on flights to the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Hawai’i. How do you go about figuring this one out?

It’s tough to say. Your best bet is probably to stick with Priceline where they don’t charge you a fee on any itinerary. Otherwise, just compare usairways.com rates to your favorite online travel agent or metasearch site. If usairways.com is within a couple of dollars of that site, then the fee is in place. If it’s a bigger spread, like $5 to $10, then it’s not.

7 Responses to The US Airways $5 Booking Fee is “Relaxed”

  1. Actually an interesting question is what experiment is US Airways running. Honestly, I kindof give them kudos for doing some more economic research as to what their customers will pay etc. Amazon.com for one is famous for doing this sort of research and optimization.

    Wonder if they’re also trying to make the website team self supporting, or perhaps a little less of a cost center.

  2. SeaFlyer says:

    It is an interesting way to squeeze out a few dollars. I can’t argue with that especially at $100 fuel, but it certainly does not entice me to want to fly them.

  3. Mike says:

    I remember when they used to boast that usairways.com had the lowest fare anywhere on the net. They had a guarantee and everything. Guess those days are gone…

  4. CF says:

    Mike – Yes, and they had it painted on the planes, BUT . . . that was the old US Airways. Remember, this team is really the America West management team, so it’s not exactly the same.

    Still, most airlines have spent a ton of time convincing people that you’ll always find the lowest fares on the airline website, and while I don’t think they need to keep that promise forever, they should at least disclose if that’s not the case.

  5. Mike says:

    Yeah. Apart from the name, not much is the same about the new US Airways. I guess that’s probably a good thing, as they wouldn’t have been in business for much longer with the old management.

  6. Hunter says:

    I don’t think anyone will deny them props for squeezing out every last bit of revenue; it’s the name of the game these days. But, I think the problem I (and it sounds like others) have is that they’re playing games with it. It just feels like they are doing something sneaky by the way they are going about it. Namely, not calling the booking fee out and lumping it into the fare, “relaxing” the fee on some routes, but not others and not telling us which are affected/not affected, etc.

    If there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing, then why not be upfront about it to the customer? If I even FEEL like I am being played with, I’ll book away from US.

  7. Pingback: The US Airways $5 Booking Fee is... [ The Cranky Flier ]

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