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Airlines adding early boarding fee

July 17, 2010 at 10:48 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 17 (UPI) -- American Airlines has joined Southwest and United in offering passengers willing to pay for it the privilege of boarding first.

Passengers pay from $9 to $19 for American's "boarding and flexibility package," the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on its Web site Saturday. The package includes allowing passengers to leave on an earlier flight at no charge if space is available and a $75 credit against fees if passengers have to change reservations.

"From customer feedback, we understand that those are services that they are willing to pay for and value," American spokeswoman Martha Pantin told the newspaper in an e-mail. "We are seeing customers choose the option more and more each week."

U.S. airlines have been moving farther toward collecting fees for everything from checked baggage to on-board meals. In the past two years, total revenues from fees totaled $7.9 billion.

Matt Daimler of Seatguru.com said passengers can "game the system a little bit" to get certain things without paying. For example, he said, most airlines board back-to-front, so people who want to get on early should reserve seats in the back of the plane.

He urged passengers to think about whether the fee brings real benefit before they pay one.

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