Southwest's no-fee claim is deceiving! Its TV commercials show the $69 fare being the fare a customer should expect to pay on Southwest, while the final fare on other airlines differs from that which is advertised. This is actually backwards.
I picked my $69 fare on southwest.com, and the next page showed my final price at $90. The additional $21 was made up of federal and security taxes and fees, which a Southwest phone agent claimed were "not Southwest fees, which is what we are advertising". However, while this is understandable, it is completely deceiving.
Booking another flight on united.com, the price I was shown was the price I paid. United at least has the decency to show the fare plus non-United fees on the search results page, unlike Southwest. An no United fees are "hidden". You're quite aware if you are choosing options with fees. I would imagine other airlines are similar.
In the end, this particular Southwest ticket was the least expensive I found, even at $90. However, had the fares been closer between Southwest and other airlines (like their $208 fares), this really would have p'd me off.
- not buying it
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