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It's a plane! No, it's a cash register

  |   Dec. 26, 2011 at 2:45 PM
TORONTO, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Fees charged for snacks, pillows, headphones and blankets by airlines may be just the beginning of a trend, a study done by Canadian firm GuestLogix found.

When the price of oil soared to $147 per barrel in the summer of 2008 and airlines began charging for extra baggage, extra legroom and early boarding privileges, it was just the start, GuestLogix said.

It wasn't long before airlines realized their planes could be turned into flying cash registers. Fees for "comfort items," such as pillows and blankets rose 70 percent January through June of 2011 compared to the same period a year earlier. Fees for meals rose 300 percent from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Not surprisingly, "The longer the flight, passengers are less likely to wait until they are on the ground to buy food or drink," the GuestLogix report said.

The study found the average bar tab for passengers on flights of 500 miles or fewer was $22, while on flights over 1,500 miles long, the average bar tab was $71.

What's next is revenue-building charges for "destination-based attractions," said GuestLogix managing director Chris Gardner.

That would be fees for car rentals and booking a hotel room while en route, the newspaper said.

"I think airlines are thinking about the passenger and trying to get them what they want," Gardner said.

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