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Susan Wilson Solovic Headshot

Small Businesses Fed-Up With Flying

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Every media outlet is talking about the public outrage regarding the full-body scanners and pat-downs being used by airport security. For me, and many small business travelers, this is just another issue that makes flying frustrating.

Politicians pontificate about the important role small business plays in our economic recovery. Yet, recent polls show small businesses think the government has done very little or nothing to help them.

Small business owners, however, are a resilient lot and even without any assistance they have held on and are beginning to show some signs of optimism with plans to increase business travel next year.

Which brings me to my big rub -- airline change fees. Small businesses that need to travel to increase business opportunities have to book their airfare well in advance in order to get reasonable fares. However, if they need to change their travel plans, the airlines hold out their greedy hands to make it nearly economically impossible for the small business owner to make adjustments. The airlines hit you with a change fee. Then they figure the difference between when you purchased your flight and the cost it of the fare when you make the change. Sometimes the amount is significantly more than the original ticket price.

As a result, the small business owner either decides to take the financial hit and change the ticket hoping it pays off or he chooses not to make the change thus forging the business opportunity. Revenue is lost not only by the business owner, but also by other businesses, including those related to the travel industry. So much for generating economic recovery.

Can't something be done to change this system? It is stifling growth for many small businesses. Is there a reasonable fair-market argument to be made to justify these ridiculous charges? If the airline has a seat available and you want to change to a different flight, why can't you do that for free or at least a minimal charge? These airline change fees are one of the things that prevent small businesses from being able to compete on a level playing field with large companies and their expense accounts.

So yes, I don't like the idea of someone feeling me up at the airport. But I also don't like a company reaching into my wallet for wads of cash because I need to change my travel plans.