Airline pricing: Why it’s all wrong

Originally posted on Fortune Management & Career Blog:

A coach flier might pay more for extra services, if only they weren’t offered in such an aggravating way.

airline_passengers

FORTUNE — It’s hard to think of a more amazing product with poorer presentation than air travel. Despite the fact that airlines provide an incredible service (they let us fly, in the air), we love to hate on them, in part because they confuse customers. Most unpleasant of all is how airlines obfuscate what, exactly, their customers are purchasing.

The cost of fuel will be high for the foreseeable future, and jet fuel is the airlines’ greatest expense. To boost profit margins, companies will need to squeeze more money from passengers. Recently, carriers have tried to do this by offering economy passengers the lowest possible prices on flights and charging fees for other services. That strategy has ticked off fliers unused to paying for services such as meals or exit row seats.

But it…

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