Survey: Some fliers willing to pay extra to boost comfort

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Are you fed up with airline fees? Well, it turns that some of you aren't fed up enough. Some of you are actually pushing for more fees, not for checked bags, but one out of three of you would happily pay extra to make sure yours is the first bag in baggage claim, about the same number of flyers who would happily pay more to make sure that that guy in front of them doesn't recline his seat anymore.

To travel writer Mark Murphy on the survey that could have airlines salivating, because, Mark, you argue it's given the airlines all sorts of ideas. Right?

MARK MURPHY, FOUNDER, TRAVELPULSE.COM: It does. I mean, they're telling me what they're willing to pay for.

So, why not charge? You're the airline, I would go ahead and charge at -- I mean, let's -- let's think about some ridiculous stuff, like who gets to put their arm on the armrest. Could that be one of the fees? Because you have got to share that armrest. I'm going to pay...


CAVUTO: But then what if you don't? Are you penalized if you don't?

MURPHY: If you don't pay? You don't have access.

CAVUTO: Now, all of a sudden, this can get out of control, and the dude next to you puts his arm on your armrest...

MURPHY: I own that armrest.

CAVUTO: ... is he charged?

It's your armrest.

MURPHY: It's my armrest. I paid for it.


MURPHY: We're -- we're getting a little ridiculous, because they're not charging yet.


CAVUTO: But -- but -- well, here's what's not ridiculous, and you have educated on this in the past. These guys, the airlines make billions of dollars off of these fees.

MURPHY: Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, just baggage claim -- baggage -- checked baggage fees, about $3.5 billion last year.

And that's the thing that irks people the most, the checked bags, because you used to get that for free as part of flying on the plane.

CAVUTO: Right.

MURPHY: Now you get stuck with it. Now, if you're a higher-level flyer, you get the free pass, upwards of three bags to check. They reward the top travelers that spend the money. The guy that goes onesie-twosie throughout the year, he's paying through the nose on all these fees.

CAVUTO: Well, I have told you, Mark -- and you have ignored me -- the best bet is to fly commando, but whatever.


CAVUTO: Here's what worries me, though, that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

MURPHY: Right.

CAVUTO: You take luggage on the plane, you check it on the plane, you are going to be paying fees. It's rare that you can avoid...

MURPHY: Right.

CAVUTO: ... one type of fee, right?

MURPHY: Yes. And you are going to get stuck somewhere. And some fees, you want to pay for.

So, for instance, if I want more comfort on a long-haul flight, I'm willing to pay for that extra comfort. So, think about the airline.

CAVUTO: Well, what to -- what to you is comfort? And I was just...

MURPHY: Like, where I don't bang my knees into the guy in front of me, and if he basically comes back, I need knee surgery. Right?

CAVUTO: Yes, but let's about...


CAVUTO: ... if people had their druthers and they could make sure that the person in front of them doesn't recline his seat, if he does...

MURPHY: A third of them would pay for that. And then what they have done...

CAVUTO: I know. But that requires the guy in front of you to know that.

MURPHY: No, they lock the seats. They lock the seats.

CAVUTO: Oh, they lock it. I see.



CAVUTO: So he's like struggling...

MURPHY: Yes, what's going on?

CAVUTO: What's -- damn. Yes, what's going on here?

MURPHY: Yes, exactly. So, yes, you're stuck. You are not -- you are not going to be able to get away with that.

CAVUTO: All right.

But, you know, why can't they just have simple pricing?


CAVUTO: Is it because that's the hook that gets you in, that $99 fare, that $149 fare?

MURPHY: Here's what happened.

With the Internet, prices are everywhere, comparison shopping. You look at Orbitz Matrix, and you see...

CAVUTO: Right.

MURPHY: ... the cheapest price comes up first, right? It might be a connection time of 27 hours, but it's still the cheapest -- the cheapest fare.


MURPHY: So, they want to lead with the cheapest fare.

So, what they did was, because it's all transparent pricing, they basically tacked on all of the fees, which are all the profits, in the back end. They said, listen, if you want it, pay for it. But most customers, only 10 percent of the customers in that survey are loyal to a single airline. And 90 percent, it's all about the price. So you can basically choose that cheapest price, if that's what you want.

CAVUTO: Right.

MURPHY: Get jammed in there. Suck it up for two or three hours, get off the plane, and deal.

If you bring your bag on, for the most part, they're not charging for that overhead space yet.

CAVUTO: Right. Give them time.

MURPHY: So, you're basically -- yes.


MURPHY: They will...


CAVUTO: What about the airlines? I didn't get to talk to you when this happened a few weeks ago, when the airlines are saying...

MURPHY: Yes. CAVUTO: ... you know, we are going to start charging or granting you those frequent flyer miles for the miles you took, not the trip you took, or...


MURPHY: Yes, it used to be miles. Now it's the price of the ticket. So, I hate this as a business owner, because I own a media company. And I hate it, because now it incentivizes my travelers...

CAVUTO: ... to pay through the nose.

MURPHY: ... to waste and pay more, whereas, in the past, it didn't matter. They...


CAVUTO: So if you went to New York or Los Angeles, it would be a big thing, but it's now about how much you're paying for that...


MURPHY: It's all about the price.

So, if you get a cheap, cheap ticket, and you save the company money...

CAVUTO: All right.

MURPHY: ... you get taken on the miles.

CAVUTO: Wow. I'm just still thinking of that dude in the seat in front of me and just saying, like...

MURPHY: I'm still worried about the whole commando thing.

CAVUTO: Yes. Oh, come on.


CAVUTO: Well, I can help you. I mean, you're the expert, but I play one on TV.


CAVUTO: All right, Mark Murphy, thank you very, very much. Don't tell me some of you at home were thinking about it.

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