Airlines Raising Fees ~ Pack Light or Pay More


It’s all in a day’s work as handlers process luggage for the flight.
Photo:Phillip Capper

Some creative flyers are literally going out of their way to avoid higher fees for second bags on some airlines.  After United Airlines recently upped their baggage fee for the second bag, travelers started driving to airports served by Southwest or Jet Blue, whose fees are free for first bag and free or low fee second bags.  Other passengers are using vacuum sealed bags to squeeze more in their carry-on bags or have taken to wearing special clothing with large pockets built in – large enough to hold a tablet and folded shirts.

United Airlines second bag fee just jumped to $100, up from $70 on flights from the U.S. to Africa, Europe, India, and the Middle East.  Other airlines are expected to follow suit.  American Airlines and US Airways are currently at $60 and $70, with talks about raising them.  Does this make sense with fuel prices reported to be falling?   These fees usually affect the leisure flyers.  Is it any wonder folks are willing to go out of their way to fly on Southwest or Jet Blue?

If that isn’t enough, Delta has raised their fees for check-ins, Allegiant Air is now charging for carry-on bags.  Delta matched them and also added a fee for picking up boarding passes.   The new motto seems to be “You want what?  Yes, we have a fee for that!”

In my mind, it would be acceptable to charge fees for non-essential services such as drinks or pillows and the like if the airlines need to grow their bottom line.  However, charging for baggage seems a bit unfair to me.  If airlines wanted to discourage customers, they couldn’t have managed to come up with a more effective way.  Pity the poor parent, traveling with children.  Some may be hard-pressed to pack just one bag per child for a week-long vacation.  What about their toys, snugglies and favorite books?  To a youngster, those might be the most necessary things for a relaxing journey.  If I were to book a flight in the coming weeks, I would be very upset at the added costs the airlines tack on to the price of a ticket.  I might even be tempted to pack my car and drive instead…but that’s just me.

Loading the plane…view from the window.
Photo: Michael Cote

Legislators and travel associations are working to eliminate the high fees for the second bag, but who knows how long that will take to accomplish.  In the meantime, there are security concerns with all of the added carry-on bags that passengers bring on board as a result of higher fees on checked luggage.  With more items crammed in the bags and the millions more  carry-on bags, screeners are likely to miss things during peak periods.  Don’t look for a solution any time soon.  The baggage fees are not subject to federal taxes, therefore a savings for the airlines of more than $255 million in the last year.

Some have labeled this a “fee for all.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

About Pat Mallett

One comment

  1. Great article, Pat. I am beginning to think I should check out those “staycations”. 

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