Over the years, airlines have sucked what little joy there was in flying right out. What used to be seen as a glamorous affair flying has become the bane of the travel experience. With most airlines nickle-and-diming customers for everything from snacks to boarding rights, here are a few working to make the skies friendly again.
• American Airlines launched a bag-delivery service in August. For $29.95 (in addition to the $25 checked-bag fee), passengers can have their luggage dropped off anywhere in a 40-mile radius of the airport within four hours of landing.
• Southwest began equipping a handful of planes with seven channels of live television (including CNBC and the NFL Network) and is testing a $3 to $8 charge for the service.
• Never worry about sharing an armrest on Spanish airline Vueling. For $88 each way on international flights, passengers will be guaranteed a vacant seat beside them, along with preferential boarding and free refreshments.
• Australia’s Qantas sells a permanent luggage tag ($52 or 7,000 frequent-flier points) that synchronizes passengers’ boarding-pass information with their baggage, making it faster to check in and harder to lose.
• Korean Air introduced a clever service for winter travelers bound for tropical destinations: free coat storage for five days and $2.25 per day thereafter.
• Hawaiian Airlines offers a complimentary meal and cocktail to coach passengers, but those who really want a jump start on their vacation can buy authentic Hawaiian foods such as Spam musubi ($3) or ramen noodles ($3.50), or even a fresh flower lei ($7), at the Pau Hana snack bar in the galley.
Appeared as “The Future of Airline À La Carte Options” in November 2012 issue of T+L Magazine by Jennifer Coogan