Checking on a flight into Frankfurt in late April, and the taxes, fees and surcharges are almost as much as the tickets themselves: ticket is $644.00 and the additional fees are $526.00. I am told that Andrea Merkel's government imposed this high cost to discourage uneccessary air travel. Has anyone heard of this? Thanks!
No, and most likely it is untrue. It is a market game that is played. A good friend is associated with US Air. First taxes are defined by government and they don't vary that much. Fees, however, solely determined by the airline. Which is why you see such a wide range of taxes and fees because it is the fees that are being manipulated. Now for the game --- First, it is important that airline show up on the first page of the search engine (kayak, orbitz,) because we as a searching public only look at the low price and seldom look beyond the first or second page. Second, the engines only look at the fare in determining the lowest price when list the airlines. The search engines do not consider the total price. So, if you as an airline, want to be on the top of the list you lower the fare by shifting more money to the fee so that it look like you have a cheap fare. If the search engines changed their method to consider the full price you would send a different fee and tax structure.
I booked several flights on points to Germany for this coming summer and of course have to pay all additional taxes, fees and surcharges in cash in addition to the points. Let me tell you, the LH legs of the trips are A LOT cheaper than the ones flown with Air Canada!!! Air Canada has this $250 fuel surcharge that has no equivalent in the LH fee structure ...
Merkel's (i.e. the federal German governments) share of that $526 is exactly 45 euro (~62 USD). The Luftverkehrsabgabe (air traffic tax) has 3 tax brackets: 8 euro for up to 2500 kilometers, 25 € for up to 6000 km, and 45 € for anything beyond 6000 km. The tax wasn't imposed (enacted in 2010) to en-or discourage anything, they were quite clear that the only reason for the tax is revenue.
You bet I'VE heard of it. We had a trip planned for December when my husband had a stroke and we had to cancel. We had bought travel insurance, and this is when I found out about the charges and fees. I was informed by the travel ins company that the majority of the surcharge/tax/fees amount is not refundable because it is considered a YQ surcharge that is imposed by the airlines. Because it is not a government tax, it is not refundable. Our taxes were $832 for the two tickets and $190 was refundable. However, between Lufthansa and the travel insurance company we got everything back. I didn't question it.
Bill, Air fares seem to be generally high this year. I don't know whether it's only due to the fuel situation and the turmoil in the middle east, or other factors? I've been periodically checking flights over the last month or so, and for the open-jaw combination I want the prices are in the area of $1900 (which includes all taxes and fees). I suspect that prices won't be decreasing much, so I might just have to pay whatever the price is.
It's true that taxes and charges come close to doubling the airfare. There are a whole slew of charges and national/regional/local taxes that add up to the total you're seeing. As an example, the U.S. charges a 9/11 fee to help fund TSA. The charges you have control over are gate charges and local taxes. The big airports have the highest charges/taxes but some stand out above the rest. I think Heathrow tops the list right now. I couldn't find a list but you can find the difference by shopping different airports in the vicinity of your destination the full price will reflect the different taxes/charges.
What search engine are you using? Some, such as CheapOair, routinely quote an unrealistic, lowball figure and then double it, blaming airport fees and taxes, when it brings up the actual cost. I would not deal with any company that uses deceptive trade practices. More reliable sites, such as Vayama and Kayak will list a higher initial price because they are quoting the true cost of the ticket and then adding only $100 or $150 for airport fees and taxes. But out of Atlanta, these search engines usually list Delta or one of its codeshares as the cheapest for non-stop or one-stop flights. So, I always end going directly to Delta, anyway. Using fliexible dates, I was able to find roundtrip tickets from Atlanta-Frankfurt for a little over $800, with a total price of less than $960. The results were consistent with Vayama and Kayak searches.
As to the search engine I was using it was LH's. I then went to Hotwire and PriceLine and both quoted me $981.00 per person non-stop, with no added fees and/or surcharges/tax. Thanks Bill