Airline launches fee for service keeping fares locked.
Airlines already charging for “services” such as additional baggage and onboard refreshments may have discovered a new fee to supplement their income. Continental Airlines announced its “FareLock” service this week, whereby passengers can hold a booking for a week at the same rate as a hedge against rising fares.
The fee starts from US$5 (€3.75) for a 72-hour hold or from US$10 (€7.50) for a seven-day hold, depending on the itinerary. It is the first airline to offer such a service, which comes despite the fact that travellers were previously able to hold their bookings for up to 24 hours without paying – then often cancelling and booking again if the price hadn’t changed. Continental Airlines says that this 24-hour option for passengers will remain free of charge. Industry observers say that other airlines are expected to follow Continental by also introducing the new fee.
“I think it’s a great idea, so I think others will follow,” says one. According to the US Department of Transportation, Delta Air Lines has collected the biggest amount in fees so far this year of any of the country’s carriers, netting $1.26 billion in fees in total.