Travel Light: Fees For Extra Luggage Multiply Like Crazy

Starting May 5th, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways are limiting coach passengers to one checked bag per passenger. No biggie if you travel light anyway. Business and first-class passengers will get an extra bag or two, but beware of the excess luggage fees.

If you fly Delta, for example, and you bring one extra bag that weighs over 50 pounds, you will be charged: $25 for the extra bag and $80 for going over the weight limit. If you needed a bigger bag to carry all that gear, that’ll be another $150 for exceeding the size limit. Other airlines’ fees follow suit.

Know what you are in for before you get on the plane with extra luggage. At these rates, it would be a lot cheaper to ship your extra gear via train.

New Luggage Limits: Sky High Fees for Extra Bags [Mouse Print]

(photo: dwrichards)

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  1. azntg says:

    Airlines don’t need to merge… they’re already acting like monopolies in an oligopoly environment.

    I intentionally avoid American carriers whenever practically possible. I’d rather pay full fare with other airline companies and get complete service rather than pay a “cheap” fare, get hit with fees here and there and get lousy service to boot.

  2. tedyc03 says:

    This is why I fly Southwest.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    Will this eliminate those 4x4x4 “suitcases” that some idiots check for their 2 week vacation to Sandals?

  4. Cerb says:

    I just flew on Delta to Nicaragua on a surf trip and they charged me 150$ to bring my surfboard!!!! I couldn’t believe it, most airlines I’ve flown on in the past havent charged me at all and the most I’ve been charged is 80$. I ended up leaving the board in Nicaragua since it wasn’t worth it to carry it back.

  5. juri squared says:

    As crappy as this is, I can see why airlines do it. Not only will it rake in money for them – it’s gonna be cheaper to buy your suitcase a SEAT soon – but it encourages people to leave the extra luggage home. Less luggage means less weight, which means less fuel used per trip.

    Neat, diabolical trick.

  6. geckospots says:

    Air Canada just announced a $25 fee for more than 1 bag for Tango and Tango Plus passengers [the two lowest fare levels]. This starts in July.

    Off I go to fly WestJet, I suppose. :P

  7. RobGinNC says:

    Add American Airlines to the list:

    [www.aa.com]

  8. Javert says:

    Do any of these airlines have PR / Spin departments? The easiest way to avoid a public uproar and plenty of p.o.ed customers would be to institute a fare increase (which all are doing anyways) and then announce in a tone that lets you know that they understand how the public feels…that there is a discount to only check one bag.

    The only reason I can see that they do not do this is that fares and fees go into two separate columns on an accounting sheet and may have different tax implications but it seems like they could have manipulated this better to obtain better public good-will.

    A second issue would be to institute a weight limit, not bag limit. So I have a small suitcase that weighs 30 pounds a cricket bat that weighs 3 lbs but will get hit with a large fee due to the extra item as opposed to excess weight? It is not an issue of volume but weight when looking at fuel costs. Unless they are looking to add cargo capacity for mail and shipping then they can also make money that way.

    Why do they do everything bass-ackwards?

  9. mike says:

    There’s a rule of thumb for travel: pack half as much stuff and bring twice as much money.

  10. Geekybiker says:

    I wonder if you bought your ticket before the new fees if you’ll still be charged? Seems like it would be a material change in contract. However I’m sure the airlines have some way to weasel out. They always do.

  11. Buran says:

    @tedyc03: Exactly. No bullshit. WHY do people keep patronizing companies that bend them over when a fairly-priced no-bullshit alternative exists?

    I have never paid a single bullshit airline fee because my business goes to the one that treats me like a human.

  12. jamesdenver says:

    It should definitely be based on weight/not quantity. I’ve seen comments from older folks who travel and DON’T want to pull or carry around ONE enormous suitcase.

    Rather a couple small bags are easier to carry, and more managable.

    Why should two small floral print bags be MORE than one big suitcase?

    As for me I never take more than my backpack and/or messenger bag anyway. But I can see the point.

  13. Manok says:

    how about international rates? Do we still get two bags per person with a 60 lb weight limit?

  14. nycaviation says:

    Of all the things airlines could potentially charge for, I think this is perfectly fair and won’t effect all that many people. There just aren’t a whole lot of people checking multiple suitcases.

  15. dirk1965 says:

    I wonder if they consider a laptop bag and a luggage back two carry-ons? If so, business travelers are screwed!

  16. unklegwar says:

    This will make ski trips extra fun. Airlines used to (1) allow 2 carryons and (2) count ski bag and boot bag as one item.

    This makes us doubly screwed, I bet we’ll be paying extra for skis and boots separately.

  17. unklegwar says:

    @nycaviation: Really? What study is your comment based on? Or did you pull that statistic right outta the air?

  18. wolftrouble says:

    Please don’t call it ‘extra’ luggage. It’s a second bag, not extra. ‘Extra’ implies something over and above that which you’re entitled to. Charging me more for something that’s been done for free for decades doesn’t make that something ‘extra’ anything. It makes the failing airlines a bunch of money-grubbing assholes.

  19. highmodulus says:

    I worry about the unintended consequence of overhead bin jamming. Thank about it. Carry-on size restrictions are poorly enforced. Planes are jammed full, so more bags are being carried on.

    You wonder how badly this will effect on time departures, and getting back off the plane- especially if you are in back.

    Better not try to make a connecting flight without at least a 2-3 hour gap, especially seeing if you miss it the flights behind it are probably full.

    Looks like airlines are going the rental car/hotel approach of hiding the true cost of service behind numerous fees and charges it will be extremely difficult to avoid.

  20. This isn’t about airlines reducing weight or fuel usage. This is about greed. With summer approaching, airlines know travel should increase, and people take more luggage for longer trips.

    If they really wanted to reduce the weight on of the plane, they’d limit the number of bags you can check, not charge for taking them anyway.

  21. Michi430 says:

    I booked a flight on Spirit Airlines, only to find out it costs $20 to check a bag. Good thing I headed to the beach.
    My only concern is how much I’ll need to buy there since the list of things I can’t carry on is so long.

  22. Thorny says:

    They should waive this if your trip is longer than a certain duration. I could see someone traveling for a month needing more than one bag. Anyone traveling for a week or less should be able to get away with one bag.

  23. theblackdog says:

    Add AirTran to the list as well

    [pressroom.airtran.com]

  24. stacy75 says:

    what happens if you bring an over-sized carry-on that then has to be gate-checked?

  25. kepler11 says:

    People, the reason that the bags are being charged extra is that there is extra cost to the airline for each bag. Also, because people choose to take stuff with them, and are willing to pay for it.

    There is no requirement that the amount of a fee be related to the underlying cost of something. But to satisfy people here, there is somewhat of a relationship in this case anyway. It costs ground staff to have to transfer the bags to the plane, instead of you doing the work to carry it on. And two small bags are not the same as one large bag because there is a per-bag liability to the airline in case of loss.

    These new fees are allowing the airlines to profit from the people who take extra crap on the plane (which is their choice, and they are entitled to it), but so that others don’t have to pay for it with higher ticket prices.

    For those who loudly shout they’ll never fly an airline again over this, where are you going to go for air travel? And what if Southwest starts charging too? Are you going to eat your words? The airlines are not doing well now, and they have the power over the consumer to put these charges in place to survive. Live with it and adapt.

  26. kepler11 says:

    @Thorny: Why in the world should they waive the fee if someone is staying a week versus a day? The airline is still hit with the same cost of carrying the bag, how can they decide that someone who stays longer is more deserving of a discount? How about they waive the cost of people who like to dress stylishly and therefore need to bring 3 bags of clothes? Or people who sweat a lot and need many changes of clothes? This is silly.

  27. ffmariners says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: How does that make sense? They are just making you pay for the cost implications of your decisions.

    I bring one bag with me. I should not have to pay higher fares because of the jack who brings 3 bags for a week trip.

    And costs are rising — for every cent gas goes up, airlines are faced with higher costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars (NY Times).

    Would you blame your butcher for charging more for steak when the price for beef has increased twofold in the past 5 years? …No.

  28. kepler11 says:

    “Would you blame your butcher for charging more for steak when the price for beef has increased twofold in the past 5 years? “

    – no, he would say just have the butcher stop selling steak.

  29. bobpence says:

    @ffmariners: If my butcher has to raise the price of steak, he should raise the price of steak, not start charging me a new cutting fee, wrapping fee, and cleaver-cleaning fee.

    By itself shifting to a one-checked-bag-included-with-fare policy is fine, and I too would feel good about not subsidizing the couple in front of me who, with no kids or medical reason, seem to be taking their entire wardrobe on vacation.

    But this comes on top of so many surcharges and service reductions that it’s ridiculous.

  30. BigNutty says:

    Beware of people scales when you check in next time. Every pound over the “human weight limit” will cost you more money.

    They won’t count down to ounces until next year to give everyone time to make it to Jenny Craig.

  31. nycaviation says:

    @unklegwar: It’s not a statistic, per se, but common sense. Most flyers are not going on month long vacations, they’re traveling for a week. If you need more than one check-size bag for that length of trip, you’re either traveling to a convention and the $50 is part of the cost of doing business, or you’re a princess and can afford it.

  32. mmstk101 says:

    @BigNutty: just think of the marketing possibilities!

    “Before you plan your next vacation, make sure to join Generic Weight Loss Program! You can lose weight, look great in your bathing suit, and reduce the cost of your airfare! All at the same time!”

    pure genius.

  33. bizzz says:

    if this makes americans reconsider what they pack, then I’m all for it, as long as they heavily police the carry-on rule.

    I’m so tired of getting behind a family that has 6-7 full sized suitcases for a weekend trip to vegas. It takes much longer for them to move their crap through the checkout line, much longer to check the bags, just bogs down the whole process in general.

    I have a suitcase that would fit every airline’s carry-on rules and a laptop bag. I always check the suitcase because I just don’t feel like screwing around with it. I survived for over a month abroad with just that one suitcase. There was even some stuff that I never used in that one suitcase.

    Pack smart and throw off the shackles of heavy, over packed luggage!!!