Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pay Up for That "Free Ticket"

My bank account got a rude surprise yesterday—another hidden fee by Northwest/Delta Airlines. So here I am scrolling through the screens to book a flight to Washington, DC in a couple of weeks and am planning on cashing in on some of my frequent flier miles for the flight. I find my flights and seats but just before I think I’m done what pops up onto the screen but a little red box. This box is informing me that I must now pay Northwest/Delta (or whatever they are being called since the merge) $75 plus $5 in tax for the privilege of redeeming my frequent flier miles. Since when are you charged $80 when cashing in on your WorldPerks (frequent flier) miles to book a so-called “free” ticket? This is ridiculous!
As I see it, I’ve already paid for all of those miles logged into my WorldPerks account; miles accumulated through purchasing tickets to fly on Northwest Airlines. This is what the new WorldPerks Award Redemption Fee has done. Not only are you limited on your flight choices and seats on the airplane when using a WorldPerks mileage redemption ticket, you now have to pay up as well. I’ll add this Award Redemption Fee to the list of new fees that force travelers to shell out even more money to the airlines. 
Let’s see, off the top of my head, we now have checked baggage fees of $20 for 1 bag and $30 for 2 bags; extra baggage fees if you pack 3 bags; extra weight fees so don’t try to cram everything into one massive suitcase; buying meals, drinks, and snacks on the flight; and paying extra for an exit row, aisle seat, or a “premium” coach seat near the front of the plane. This doesn’t even include all of the other odd fees tacked on here and there when you purchase your ticket or check in for your flight at the airport.
I understand that airlines are going bankrupt, but this is a bit too much. What will they charge us for next? An excessive body weight charge? Maybe they will set up scales for Body Mass Index at the check-in kiosks. Anyone who doesn’t fall within the “normal” range will pay more for their seat. A small child charge? Any child age 2 and under will be charged an extra $25 on the off chance that they will cry and annoy the passengers around them. They would make a fortune off of that one. I’d better stop here before I give Northwest Airlines any additional fee ideas.
Given Northwest’s mediocre service and constant flight delays and cancellations, the least they could do is let their customers use up their frequent flier miles for free.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Farewell Summer

Somehow the arrival of that first school bus on the day after Labor Day heralds the end of summer. Within the space of three hours, I have put all three kids on three separate school buses. The experience is always bittersweet for me. I’m thrilled that the kids are finally going back to school after what seemed like an eternal summer holiday. But at the same time I almost am sad to see them go. They seem so small standing in the bus line and climbing the steps onto that big yellow school bus. But at the same time, so independent and confident. 
For me, I feel much older as I mark the start of another year back to school. That passing of a year never really hits me until today. Perhaps it is seeing the excitement in their faces at the prospect of starting off in a new grade, meeting new friends, and catching up with old ones. Maybe it is because I so vividly remember my first day of 7th grade. It doesn’t seem that long ago but it was back in 1980!
First day of 6th grade 2009
First grader 2009

Entering 7th grade 2009
To all of you Moms (and Dads) out there, enjoy these first few hours of peace and quiet. I know I will. Before you know it, those buses will be back in the neighborhood dropping the kids back at home.