Thursday, October 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How free frequent-flier tickets aren't free

Airlines have become much more likely in recent years to recover their rising cost for fuel by passing it on to customers in the form of fuel surcharges. Other transportation services, including truckers and railroads, have been doing the same for years, with surcharge clauses routinely written into pricing contracts.

How free frequent-flier tickets aren't free

Airlines  have become much more likely in recent years to recover their rising cost for fuel by passing it on to customers in the form of fuel surcharges. Other transportation services, including truckers and railroads, have been doing the same for years, with surcharge clauses routinely written into pricing contracts.

But what about that "free" ticket you've been awarded by an airline for being a loyal customer? As this New York Times Business Travel page feature notes, foreign carriers are much more likely than U.S. airlines these days to tack on a hefty fuel surcharge to a "free" award ticket. Free, of course, was always a misleading term -- an award ticket often amounts to no more than a 1 percent rebate on money you already spent for tickets.

Tom Belden
About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

Tom Belden
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