Northwest: Passengers Accept Seat Fees

In an April 5 message to the airline's employees, Doug Steenland, the airline's president and CEO, said that more customers than expected are willing to pay an extra $15 for select exit row and aisle seats. The new Coach Choice program is expected to generate at least $15 million in revenue a year, he said, noting that figure is even conservative, and he expects that to grow. Steenland said the test program, which began in March, is showing that passengers are willing to pay for the flexibility and comfort of those seats. The Coach Choice program is being phased in for all domestic flights operated by Northwest, with the exception of flights operated by regional jets. Many seats still remain available without the fee, but the new program is designed for those who book late; business travelers often book after all the choice seats are already assigned, so this gives them some flexibility. Travelers pay for the seats when checking in at the online site, [www.nwa.com], or at an airport kiosk.

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