Print Your Boarding Pass or Pay $5: Allegiant Air

For travel starting on Monday, September 1, 2014 — which is the Labor Day holiday in the United States — a fee of five dollars per boarding pass will apply if you choose to have a boarding pass printed out at select domestic airport locations of Allegiant Air.

To avoid this charge, you may check in via the official Internet web site of Allegiant Air and bring a printed paper boarding pass to the airport; or use the Allegiant2Go mobile boarding pass.

Fortunately, this charge does not apply to you if you are unable to check in using both methods of technology due to the system restrictions of Allegiant Air — although I wonder how that can be proven other than with screen shots; if you are disabled; or if you are “traveling with special service requests, such as service animals, cabin pets, and passengers traveling out of non-participating airports.”

Service animals? Cabin pets? Could this new fee possibly further perpetuate potential perceived abuse and exploitation of the rules and policies pertaining to service animals and emotional support animals?

With fees such as this one — and with passengers paying them — it is no wonder that Allegiant Air was named the most profitable airline in the United States as of the first quarter of 2013; although Delta Air Lines was named the most profitable commercial airline in the world for the year…

…but according to this article written by Paul Wyche of The Journal Gazette, Allegiant Air is the third most profitable in the world despite being nowhere near the top in terms of revenue among commercial airlines: “Allegiant had $996.2 million in revenue with a 16 percent operating profit margin last year. By comparison, top carrier American Airlines recorded $40.4 billion in revenue but only had an 8 percent profit margin.”

In addition to the proliferation of ancillary fees, a secondary reason as to why Allegiant Air is profitable is because it owns its aircraft outright — which translates into no payments or interest charges. Flights only operate when there is enough demand to pay for the fuel voraciously consumed by its older aircraft…

…but don’t be surprised if airlines — and hotels and rental cars, for that matter — keep inventing creative ways to monetize anything they can to increase profits for their stakeholders.

Where do all of the profits of airlines based in the United States go?

Well — according to this article written by Justin Bachman of Bloomberg Businessweek — those aforementioned stakeholders are benefiting from the profits, rather than you as the traveler. Airlines based outside of the United States apparently generally invest a larger portion of the profits back into the airline rather than to investors:

Yet when it comes to airline profits, no one does it like the U.S. carriers. After several Asian carriers reported results in recent days—including Cathay Pacific Airways’ (293:HK) half-year profit of $45 million announced on Wednesday—the financial difference between the U.S. airlines and the foreign carriers that travelers love to fly is striking. Nowadays, Delta clears a $45 million profit in less than a week during the summer.

Is this trend of paying investors sustainable? Is it a mere coincidence that the flight experience of an airline based in the United States is considered deplorable by many travelers when compared to that of airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, the latter of which recently announced the concept of luxury three-room residences and apartments to be introduced aboard some of its Airbus A380 aircraft?

Even without the opulence and extravagance of luxury products and services, passengers seem to be significantly happier with the economy class product and service of those three airlines — and other legacy airlines based outside of the United States — rather than that offered by airlines in the United States…

…but if the fee of five dollars by Allegiant Air to have a boarding pass printed at the airport if you choose not to print one yourself is of any indication, do not look for the passenger experience to significantly change for the better anytime soon on airlines based in the United States — especially as long as they continue to rake in the profits…

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