American Airlines adds another fee!

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- American Airlines has discovered a new way to charge passengers for something they used to get for free: sitting near the front of the plane.

On Wednesday, American Airlines, owned by AMR Corp (AMR, Fortune 500)., unveiled its "express seat" offer, which allows passengers to pay extra to sit in the first few rows of coach.

The size of the fee depends on the flight, with longer flights charging more. American provided the following introductory fees: $19 for St. Louis to Chicago, $29 for San Francisco to Dallas/Fort Worth or from Boston to Chicago, and $39 for New York City to Los Angeles or from Honolulu to Chicago.

This is the just latest so-called "ancillary" fee for the hard-hit airline industry, which has been charging passengers in the last couple years for a number of services that were once included in the fare. This includes checked luggage, meals, non-alcoholic drinks, pillows, extra leg room and so on.

"[Passengers] were not able to choose these seats previously," said American Airlines spokeswoman Stacey Frantz. "Now they can choose these specific seats, if they want them, for a small fee."

Frantz said that disabled passengers will continue to get priority seating for the front coach section, and they will not be charged extra for it.

While the ancillary fees have annoyed some passengers, it has proven to be a boon for the industry. The Air Transport Association of America reported last month that passenger revenue was on the rise for the first half of the year, including a 25% surge in June compared to the same period the year before. The fees were partly responsible for the increase.

When that report was released in July, ATA spokesman David Castelveter said the rise in revenue stemmed from "a combination of improving economic conditions, increase in business travel and revenue from ancillary fees." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,232.02 -53.72 -0.29%
Nasdaq 5,089.36 -1.43 -0.03%
S&P 500 2,126.06 -4.76 -0.22%
Treasuries 2.22 0.03 1.37%
Data as of 1:44pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.75 0.02 0.12%
Apple Inc 132.54 1.15 0.88%
Hewlett-Packard Co 34.76 0.93 2.75%
AT&T Inc 34.71 -0.36 -1.03%
Microsoft Corp 46.90 0.00 0.00%
Data as of May 22
Sponsors

Sections

Remember when Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, tried to buy Time Warner Cable? Now Charter, the third largest, is poised to do so. More

The True Cost, a new documentary, chronicles the evils of the clothing industry and asks us to stop buying so much cheap stuff More

Google filed a patent for a toy that will have sensors and cameras, and can control connected devices. More

Sarah Kauss launched S'well to rid the world of plastic water bottles. In five years, she's sold 4 million of her stainless steel bottles. More