Years ago, the airline industry provided passengers with niceties including hot meals, snacks and beverages at no additional charge. Now customers can hardly turn around without encountering a new fee for checked bags, seats with extra leg-room or early boarding privileges. Getting a bag of peanuts on some flights is impossible, and some airlines now charge fees even for carry-on bags. All these tagged-on expenses are part of the airlines' attempt to compensate for the rising cost of fuel prices while still offering relatively low fares.

Annoying as these practices may be, the banking industry has something to learn from fee-hungry airlines. Banking services have become more expensive over the last decade while fee income has eroded. Meanwhile, banks have enhanced the quality and range of services they provide to customers without charging enough fees to cover the cost. I am not advocating that banks follow the airlines' lead and start charging for every individual service they provide à la carte, but banks do need to re-think what they are and are not giving away for free.

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