- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2013

Want more legroom? Better flight food? Thanks to new airline policies going into effect this week, even coach fliers can now obtain these first-class luxuries — for a price.

New fee policies let passengers purchase more legroom, early boarding, access to the quiet lounges, Apple iPad rentals with preloaded movies, first-class hot meals and empty seats in order to stretch out even more, The Associated Press reported.

The idea is to quit feeing customers to death for necessary items — like luggage — and instead offer them low-cost access to some of the more luxurious offerings on airlines. And it’s only going to get more high-tech: Airline officials say they’re going to start using flier data to customize offers to each passenger.

“We’ve moved from takeaways to enhancements,” said John Thomas, of L.E.K. Consulting, in the AP report. “It’s all about personalizing the travel experience.”

Airlines brought in $15 billion in fees last year — but that amount has plateaued, industry analysts say. So executives are looking for the latest in revenue streams, and data seems to be a surefire option, AP said.

** FILE ** In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, a United Airlines passenger chooses snacks in the United Club at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them. Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
** FILE ** In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, a ... more >

It’ll be a bit like Amazon, one executive said, referring to the way the online sales site tracks customer purchases and tailors offerings based on these histories.

“We have massive amounts of data,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson said. “We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings.”