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Airline Baggage Fees Increasing in Popularity

This article was written by in Travel. 14 comments.

When I traveled to Arizona in April, I was charged $15 for each flight for checking my luggage. While I knew that many airlines had begun charging extra for services that were once “free,” like meals and baggage check, I didn’t recall seeing any warning when I originally booked the flight several weeks earlier. I have no problem with these add-on fees. On an earlier trip, I was happy to pay an extra $25 in both directions for a better-placed seat, a benefit that I used to be able to receive just by asking for certain exit row placements.

But let’s be clear. These things were never free. Travelers paid for meals, checked baggage, entertainment, and all the other amenities w have come to expect while flying, but the cost was unnoticed. The cost of these items was simply rolled into the cost of the ticket. Airlines, under the strain to compete with each other, have been reluctant to raise fares, the most visible differentiation. With services like SideStep, companies are aware that in most cases, people choose flights based almost solely on the flight with the lowest price.

A number of commentators don’t seem to understand that we’ve been paying for these services all along. This article from CNN Money explains how new or raised amenity fees have saved the airlines from extinction.

Since travelers have always been paying for these services, although they were rolled into the price of the ticket, it might make sense to continue looking at the overall cost of the flight when making comparisons.

The airlines do need to do a better job of explaining all the fees up front so consumers can make educated selections based on total price. But let’s not consider these fees “added” or “extra,” it’s just a case of higher prices.

Published or updated May 13, 2009.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I don’t like paying baggage fees. It’s annoying. How many people can actually travel anywhere without taking at least one piece of luggage? Yes, charge for meals, upgrades, liquor and any other unnecessary extras. But, if you are flying, it is most likely a distance from your home and you need a bag of personal items with you. Of course, to avoid the checked bag fee, we could all wrestle a giant carry-on onboard – another pet peeve. I hate those people who holdup the boarding process because they try to wedge all their personal belongings into a carry-on. Is anyone really that pressed for time that they can’t deal with checked baggage? BTW, read your site often, good stuff :)

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avatar 2 Anonymous

People just don’t like being nickel and dimed, especially when not all airlines charge for checked baggage and the cost isn’t uniform. It makes it difficult to make a quick equal comparison between two things that should be substitutes. I understand that we’ve always been paying for it but it’s like medical insurance, some people subsidize others and in the end everyone wins without feeling ripped off.

That being said, I’m glad the option is there. If an airline can’t stay solvent without these types of fees, I think it’s a necessary evil if you want the choice of carrier.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Airlines want to attract business travelers, and cost is a big issue. As former frequent business traveler, I can tell you first hand, they do not want to check bags and rarely do.

Leisure travel is not a big market compared to business travel and airlines are trying to survive.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

It’s worth pointing out that some airlines, such as Southwest, don’t charge these fees. Would be great if you could do a roundup of who does and doesn’t charge.


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avatar 5 Anonymous

My question: If they lose my luggage, do I get a refund?

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