Stupid Airline Fee: $39 to Sit Up Front

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Airlines never cease to amaze us with their ability to find or invent new fees to charge travelers.

American Airlines (Stock Quote: AMR) announced Wednesday that it will begin charging customers between $19 and $39 extra to book the “first few rows” in coach.

The airline is rebranding the front rows as “Express Seats” and claims that this new fee is part of American’s goal of “offering customers what they value most,” by allowing travelers the option to pay extra to board and exit the plane more quickly.

“Customers who purchase an Express Seat are able to board with Group 1 of General Boarding for their flight, providing them the convenience of being among the first Coach customers on and off the plane,” the company said in a press release.

The seats will start at $19 for shorter flights, such as ones from Chicago to St. Louis, and will cost as much as $39 for longer flights like those between Chicago and Honolulu. Customers will only be able to purchase this upgrade at the self-service check-in machines in the airport starting 24 hours before the flight.

This isn’t the first time American has made headlines for adding an unusual new fee. Earlier this year, the airline introduced an $8 surcharge for the privilege to get a pillow and blanket on the flight.

Yet what’s particularly strange about this new fee is that the airline already has a fee for pretty much the same service. Last month, American announced that it would charge customers between $9 and $19 to be among the first wave of people to board a flight. So if you don’t care about where you sit on the plane, but want the perk of boarding quickly, just sign up for this fee instead and save a few bucks in the process.

After all, doesn’t American Airlines realize all the cool kids sit in the back, anyway?

Check out MainStreet’s roundup of the most absurd airline fees.

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