In general, I've been defensive of airline fees. It's no secret that U.S. airlines have been hurting; most have lost literally billions of dollars each of the last few years, first due to super-high fuel prices and then because of the pullback in business travel unleashed by the recession.
That's why I accepted fuel surcharges, higher fares around holidays, and even the elimination of free meals by my favorite airline, the last airline to offer them.
But there are some areas where the line has to be drawn. Spirit Airlines' fees for carry-on bags are one example of going too far. Today, American Airlines has given us another.
According to MarketWatch, "American Airlines said Wednesday it would begin charging passengers for the privilege of sitting in the seats closest to an airplane's front exit." Prices will start (!) at $19 to book one of these "Express Seats," whose only desireable trait it that its occupant is able to get off the plane slightly sooner than those seated farther back... umm, what?!
This is just nonsense. Unless you're American Airlines, in which case it's part of a new program called -- tada! -- Your Choice(SM).
Well, at least they got that right. It is Your Choice(SM). Take advantage of that, and fly with someone else.