"What goes up must come down."
When the airlines were hit with rising fuel costs, we certainly understood when they hiked up their prices. After all, fuel accounts for about a third of airline operating expenses. And we stood by as they used other means to offset the cost of fuel -- baggage fees, payment for food inflight ... even, in some cases, a charge for a pillow or blanket.
Now, as the price of oil is plummeting, the airlines are seeing a windfall that will result in record profits. But there's no talk of trimming fares. Instead, some carriers are talking about reconfiguring planes so they have more room for "premium" seats that give a few inches more legroom -- for a higher price, of course. That will also mean fewer coach seats, which will kick in another law -- the law of supply and demand -- resulting in higher fares for coach.
Delta, says a story in The New York Times, is predicting a profit of $5 billion next year, pushed up by an estimated fuel savings of $1.5 billion. The industry overall forecasts profits of $25 billion next year, up $5 billion from this year.
I don't hear Delta or anyone in the airline business talking about dropping the baggage fees. And they still have the nerve to charge from $100 to $200 to make a change in travel plans once you've purchased a ticket, even though you're not using the time of an airline employee as you make the changes yourself online. What a racket.
A price break in airfares or dropping the baggage fees would go a long way in building customer trust in the industry, which has fallen almost as fast as the price of oil. I'm not going to hold my breath on this one, though.