It's perhaps one of the most universally hated industries. It's
filled with long lines, occasional delays, a laundry list of
optional fees, and both metaphorical and literal turbulence. Yet,
we'd be lost without the airline industry.
In 2013, the Department of Transportation's Bureau of
Transportation Statistics noted that more than 815 million
passengers flew on domestic flights or foreign airlines entering or
leaving the United States in the previous year. There's simply
no better way to travel great distances more quickly or safely than
flying -- at least until teleportation or the flux capacitor
becomes a reality.
But there's plenty about the airline industry that it would
rather its passengers not know. From what you'll really end up
paying for a ticket to what you'll actually receive, here's a look
at four things the industry doesn't want you to know.
1. That bargain-basement fare is just a teaser
While it's tempting to brag to your friends about scoring a $79
ticket to a prime vacation destination, chances are that the price
you pay for your flight ticket is just a starting point for what
you'll wind up paying in the end.
Airlines need two factors to be successful: new customers and
loyal customers. In order to draw in new customers, some airlines
will dangle a carrot, like a really low fare to select cities.
offers the best example of this, as its ultra-low-fare model
targets the most cost-conscious consumers.
Source: Spirit Airlines.
But what passengers often don't realize is that those bare-bones
ticket prices often don't include government taxes and optional
fees, such as baggage check; all but two of the 14 domestic
airlines currently charge for the first checked bag. Spirit, for
instance, will hit passengers with fees of
up to $100
for a first checked bag if you need to do so at the gate. Even
plan-ahead types, who let the airline know in advance online that
they're bringing a piece of luggage, have to shell out $45 to check
a bag. When all these extra fees are added in, you might be left
wondering what sort of a deal you really wound up getting.
2. Racking up airline miles can cost
a pretty penny.
The benefits of signing up for an airline credit card can seem
overwhelming at first. The bonus miles; the possible upgrades; and
sometimes, a free domestic flight right off the bat! How could a
passenger go wrong?
Well, those miles are more like golden handcuffs than manna from
heaven. The real purpose of airline credit cards is to keep
passengers loyal to the brand, because when they're loyal, they're
less likely to shop around for a better price. In reality, it takes
a lot of points for passengers to upgrade to a better seat, and the
points system is structured in such a way that people will spend
more than they originally wanted to in order to earn more
Delta Air Lines
both recently announced that they'd be ditching their old
program of counting miles flown and, instead, replacing it with
dollars spent. Therefore, unless you're a very frequent flier, or
business customer who spends a lot, those points aren't likely to
add up as quickly.
3. Your plane may be from the last century.
Fuel is the biggest cost the airline industry faces. In order to
counteract high jet-fuel costs, airlines have been ordering newer,
more fuel-efficient planes from
at a record pace -- more than 8,200 new planes during the past five
years, to be more precise.
Yet, Boeing and Airbus can only produce about 24 planes per
week, combined, and the airline industry can only afford to pay for
so many aircraft at once. This drawn-out replacement cycle means
that, while you could get lucky enough and end up in a new plane
that rolled off the assembly line last week, you might instead be
flying on a jet that was
built last century
According to data courtesy of AirFleets.net, Delta's and
's average fleet age is 16.9 years and 22.2 years old,
4. Your seat is shrinking.
If you think coach is cramped now, just give the airlines a few
more years, and they'll show you what cramped really means.
Source: Spirit Airlines.
The Wall Street Journal
, airlines both big and small are looking for ways to cram more
seats on airplanes. Select airlines have requested that Airbus and
Boeing utilize 17-inch seats moving forward, allowing a previously
standard nine-seat row in economy class to now harbor 10 seats.
won't be the final stomping ground
in the race for space, either. Bathroom redesigns and door
modifications could yield even more floor space that airlines could
use to cram more passengers onto its planes. But should this
really surprise anyone in an industry where capacity is
Your plane may be from last century, but this new
technology has everyone talking: Apple's next smart device
(warning, it may shock you)
recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to
guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the
public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some
early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the
the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million
of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small
company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock
price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know
investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart
4 Things the Airline Industry Doesn't Want You to
originally appeared on Fool.com.
has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this
article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name
, track every pick he makes under the screen name
, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle
The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Apple. Try any
of our Foolish newsletter services
free for 30 days
. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe
considering a diverse range of insights
makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights
reserved. The Motley Fool has a