Delta's New Baggage Fee Is Retroactive

Delta is now charging $25, if you want to check more than one bag starting May 5, but they’re also backdating the fee. You can get it waived at check-in, but only if you bought between February 4, and April 4. This is of no help to reader Jason, who bought tickets back in January, and is now subject to a surprise $100 fee (he and his wife are both bringing two bags each). He writes, “If I would have known that when I booked I may have thought twice about Delta. I feel I was misled!” Jason tried emailing customer service but got nowhere. He might try sending them an executive email carpet bomb, based on the info in this post.


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  1. Gokuhouse says:

    Now that we have tons of airlines dying left and right, this seems like a good idea….Let’s bully the people that still use the airlines! Maybe we can get them to drive instead…Good idea Delta.

  2. donkeyjote says:

    Small Claims court. It is a gross tort, with a non-trivial amount (Materially adverse) like cell phone contracts and fee changes.

    They should atleast let you cancel without fee, for 100% refund.

  3. unklegwar says:

    I thought and airline ticket was a “contract”, How the hell can they adjust the rate retroactively?

    If this flies (no pun intended), I’m going to back bill all my previous employers at my current salary!!!!

  4. MonkeyMonk says:

    If the charge is “$25, if you want to check more than one bag” and “he and his wife are both bringing two bags each” wouldn’t that only be an extra charge of $50 (considering their first bag each is included in the ticket price)?

  5. Gokuhouse says:

    @unklegwar: I like the whole retroactive salary idea! I’m on board!!!

  6. FatLynn says:

    Seriously, though, where are you going that you need two bags? Travel lighter.

  7. CalebFuries says:

    Comment on Delta’s New Baggage Fee Is Retroactive I have engaged in my own campaign of revenge. I used to pack two small
    bags for my extended trips, now that I am limited to one I take a big
    bag on even 2 day trips. In the event that what I need does not add up
    to 50 pounds I load bricks to make up the difference.

    There have been occasions when I have all the stuff I need in my carry
    on and the airline has hauled 50 pounds of bricks round trip.

    (By the way TSA has never said boo about my bricks).

  8. mmbb says:

    I doubt that the “contract” that he entered into with Delta specified the number of bags that he would be allowed to check.

  9. Coles_Law says:

    @MonkeyMonk $50 each way for $100 total. That got me too.

  10. jamesdenver says:


    I’m a light traveler (messenger bag only usually) and agree. But when I posted about the UAL fees on my blog a few months back an older person commented that they prefer two small bags to one medium large suitcase.

    They’re each light, less weight each, and easier to carry and access.

    For an older person that makes perfect sense to me. Two small totes weigh the same or less as one giant Samsonite – which I agree can be unweildy and have for an older person

    just one argument…

  11. Ben Popken says:

    @MonkeyMonk: It’s per leg and he’s flying roundtrip.

  12. seamer says:

    This has to be something like ye olde Bait and Switch scam.

  13. flidget says:

    @FatLynn: I doubt this applies to Jason and his wife, but I live in Boston and go to school in Los Angeles – three free bags each way [the third being thanks to my SkyMiles] was a huge help at move-in and move-out.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    I’ve wondered about this. It would seem to be a gross breach of contract to add additional fees after your ticket is purchased.

  15. WraithSama says:

    I agree with a previous poster, if they won’t refund the fee, take it to small claims court. You already bought the ticket, they can’t retroactively change the price by tacking on fees after the point of sale.

  16. Altdotweb says:

    Tickets are for transportation of your person and not for your personal effects.

    Bag policies are a convenience and benefit dictated by the airline and not a right granted to a passenger.

    Try finding an airline that flies anywhere that will give you that second bag for free.

    Good Luck.

  17. god_forbids says:

    People, people. There are portions of the Contract of Carriage which are specifically protected by federal law. Most others are malleable. To wit:

    “Delta reserves the right to amend its Conditions of Carriage at any time. Your travel will be governed by the rules that are in effect on the date your travel begins.”

    This couple is CHOOSING to bring two bags on board. Who cares what they “planned” for, months back, before anyone knew about all this? The rules now are the rules NOW, and he alone has the power to save himself $100 – don’t bring the bags!

    And, really, what the heck. If you miss a flight, they can charge you a fee to re-book. Beverage? Fee. Headphones? Fee. Sandwich? Fee. Extra bag? Fee. Companies are allowed to charge money to provide services, and since baggage service adds all kinds of costs (handlers, fuel, TSA pass-through fees, etc.) they absolutely have the right to charge you for it.

    The fact that it was free up until now is irrelevant. So is the fact of *when* you purchased your ticket. If they decide to up the prices on beer, do they have to honor the old price for current ticketholders? Think a minute before you start whining about everything.

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    Agreed:tickets are for transportation but there are still alot of fliers out there who remember when you didn’t have to pay for a SNACK and got an actual meal.And there alot of fliers and airlines that never even enforced the weight limits.

    But all the airlines must do is become more up front in their pricing.If you want to cover fuel costs either put a fuel charge on the fare or simply admit you are raising prices due to fuel.

    Another thing with bag fees.Bag fees along with the TSA raise the cost of flying in that now you must buy all the stuff at the destination AND waste it just the same by having to leave unused portions.It is also your TIME SPENT BUYING stuff you used to be able to pack/carry on a plane.Even you forgot something like sporting equipment or particular clothing-your cost was just raised again along with another decision:is what I bought worth the extra bag charge on the way back?.

  19. Lambasted says:

    It is disgraceful of Delta to force a retroactive penalty on unsuspecting consumers. Even our Constitution recognizes the unfairness of this practice by precluding ex post facto application of laws.

    Delta flyers should be bound by the rules that were in place at the time they purchased their ticket or have the ability to opt-out and receive a refund.

  20. balthisar says:

    @Altdotweb: Uh, ALL airlines up until just very recently give a second bag for free. And some still do: Aeromexico if you’re lucky-enough to live on one of their routes still treats you a customer, and lets you check two bags at no extra cost. KLM does. Other internationals. I want to give my money to US carriers, but between crappy service and stupid fees, I’d rather fly happy like in the old days.

    Hopefully these higher prices are getting rid of the riff-raff (“dollar conscious shoppers”) and we’ll have good airlines again.

  21. levenhopper says:

    Delta’s Conditions of Carriage states the fees for each bag you check (P.31). When you buy your ticket, you agree to the Conditions of Carriage (COC), which is a contract according to the language used in the COC.


    The COC has a clause in it that allows Delta to “…amend these COC at any time. Your travel will be governed by the rules are in effect the date that your travel begins. In the event that we amend these COC in a way that materially affects the terms and conditions of your ticket after you have purchased your ticket but before your travel begins, and you do not agree to be bound to the rules as amended, you may request a full refund of your ticket price.”

    Sorry that was so lengthy, but I couldn’t really cut any of it out.

    PDF: []

  22. levenhopper says:

    DOAH…sorry, I thought I ended the bold, but apparently I didn’t.

    I really wish we could go back and edit our comments. *WINK*

  23. Javert says:

    @levenhopper: I thought they had something to allowt them to do this. It would be hard to argue that $100 would “materially affect” someone and that is open to a lot of interpretation.

    Now, I hate doing this when looking at airlines but I have 2 suggestions. First, don’t make it one bag, make it 1 or 2 bags up to 50 lbs. It is a lot easier to move 2 small bags than one big one. Second, what about those of us who travel real light? If I check no bags, why don’t I get something? I know that is dumbest thing ever but the system should be set up such that when you buy the ticket you are paying for the ticket and the fees up front. Then, when you check in, if you have no bags you get credit. Sorry, that would both make sense and be good public relations…two areas most airline execs skipped while sleeping through their business classes.

  24. … As if we need yet another reason to hate the airlines.

    I’m still wondering what the hell Congress is doing to clamp down on airline abuse of passengers. Surely the Bush administration won’t do anything. Didn’t we elect a Democratic House and Senate?

  25. Parting says:

    @Javert: $100 would “materially affect” a lot of people. 100$ is a week of groceries, or couple of weeks of gaz.

    This is why people should pay their airplane tickets by credit cards. Chargeback is often the easiest recourse to those companies.

    And this sounds as fraud anyway.

  26. Buran says:

    @mmbb: It did not state that there was a fee for something they are now demanding money for. That’s a materially adverse change, I think (but am not a lawyer).

  27. levenhopper says:

    @Victo: Eh, I wouldn’t call it fraud, but he should be able to opt out of his contract (i.e. ticket) without penalty.

    This just reminds me of cell-phone contract changes.

  28. LUV2CattleCall says:


    How about…Southwest? 2 Bags, never any change fees, ever, great deals, super nice staff, etc…hence why I “Luv 2 Cattlecall.”

    Oh, and I like that it’s super easy to edit their online boarding passes in Microsoft Word to get myself into the beginning of the “A” boarding group!

  29. DeltaPurser says:

    Wonder how much of that I will see in my paycheck?!

  30. shortcake says:

    I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just waive the fee for all purchases made before April 4. Why only a two-month window? How large is the percentage of people buying a flight more than three months out?

  31. Vhalkyrie says:

    Changing the terms on tickets previously purchased – how is this legal? Moving forward, charging extra for another bag is a good move (do you really need to carry all that stuff?) but when you buy your tickets under one set of conditions and allow them to change the rules at any time, it’s just asking for abuse.

    Learning to haul less crap isn’t a bad thing, though. Personally, I’ve tried to do all my travel with carry on only. It’s easier to deal with – never had to deal with lost luggage, baggage fees, damaged luggage, long waits at baggage claim, etc.

  32. PrimaThanatos says:

    Comment on Delta’s New Baggage Fee Is Retroactive Delta continues to nickel and dime people. I was just charged $3 per person
    for checking in at curbside by Delta. And this was for a First Class fare!

    That made me feel real special.

    Jim F

  33. SinisterMatt says:


    Yeah, we did elect a Democratic Congress, but they are too cowed by the administration from being accused of being “soft on terrorism.” to do anything substantial. (which is why they are investigating baseball) ;-)

    End Political commentary…

    I don’t think that Delta should retroactively try and get these baggage fees. That just seems sneaky and wrong. Yeah, they can apply it from a specific point, but it should not be applied now.

    Any company (like Southwest, IIRC) that doesn’t implement these charges is going to make a small fortune.


  34. RodericaNekromantix says:

    After purchasing tix in Feb we got hit on our May 7 travel with this fee.

    I don’t disagree that fuel costs can drive such a change, but since
    Delta already sends emails before the travel date, why don’t they
    notify their customers these changes have occurred?

    I think it would be class-actionable since it is a unilateral,
    material change in contract terms.