Stan: The only thing transparent about the airline industry is that it’s hiding something.

My roommate and I are making plans for another trip. I was ready to book tickets on my favorite airline, Southwest, when I received an e-mail informing me that the sale price on Delta now matched it’s price. What it did not tell me is that Delta is charging $25 a suitcase each way. Luggage is free on Southwest.

I am saving 50 bucks by sticking with my first choice. I’m not thrilled with flying on Delta anyway. I once had to sit alongside a very, very heavy woman on a Delta flight (pleas note that I did say “alongside of her.” But the truth is that I was “underneath her”).

She poured out of her seat and practically sat on me. Then she had the nerve to lift the armrest which I instantly slammed down. This led to some words with a very nasty flight attendant about a seat change, mine or hers. I lost the argument, and the stewardess (they hate when you call them that) had a good laugh at my expense. Delta is now my very last choice when making plans.

You may have noticed that the cost of a ticket to your favorite destination has increased significantly since last month. Actually the cost has not gone up. The Department of Transportation now requires the supervisors of the friendly skies and online travel agencies to include all taxes when advertising fares. They tell us that this is to increase transparency in the airline industry so travelers are more aware of the total cost of a trip. Yeah, right!

Anytime I see or hear a government agency use the word “transparency” I begin to worry. This is supposed to be a big win for us consumers, but I believe it is a bigger win for the government. Everybody knows that this administration is looking for more ways to tax us. With this new mandatory pricing requirement, the government will be able to hide all new increases in the taxes on your ticket. We can look forward to “takeoff taxes,” landing taxes, increases in Federal excise taxes, fuel taxes, user taxes, development taxes, and, even if you have no need for it, you some sort of “toilet taxes.”

And none of us will know about them.

If, by some chance, there really is some transparency, we will be informed that those new costs are not taxes. They’re “fees.” Balderdash!

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Did you know that 78 percent of all airline frequent flier miles are never redeemed? For the 22 percent who do use them, they are at the mercy of the airlines to fly when they want you to, not when it is convenient for you.

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And the scams keep coming. A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the rip-offs we have received via e-mail. Today we received one that was delivered by my postman. On beautifully printed, expensive stationery, a collection agency located somewhere in the south informed us that we owe Sprint $2,333.16. They are, however, “willing to reduce your outstanding balance by offering a discounted payoff amount of $1,353.23.” That’s really nice of them.

“Upon receipt and clearance of $1,353.23, your account will be closed as paid and collection efforts will cease.” Whew. Thank God. That’s a relief.

It went on to say “any indebtedness of $600 or more which is discharged as a result of a settlement will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service as taxable income” yada, yada, yada.

Oh, wow. The IRS? Now I’m really getting frightened. What to do? What to do?

Well, I did three things. First, I checked my Sprint bill and learned I owed a whopping 26 bucks. Second, I jotted down some of the wording from this collection letter so that I can tell you about it. Third, I tossed this “frightening” piece of trash where it belongs — into the trash.

I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net wondering if people actually fall for this con.

Read Stanley P. Gershbein's column every monday on BrooklynDaily.com

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