Northwest Airlines Begins Charging $15 For First Checked Bag Today

Reader Colin says he just got charged for his first checked bag on Northwest Airlines:

I just checked in at Denver International to find that NWA is charging $15 for the first checked bag, used to be free. Skycap said this just started today. Looks like I picked the wrong day to fly.

The Skycap is correct, today is the first day that Northwest is charging for the first checked bag.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The fees will be waived for certain passengers:

• Those who bought their ticket before July 10.

• Those who are traveling internationally.

• Those who are Elite, first-class and World Business-class passengers.

If you bought your ticket before July 10, don’t let them sock you with this fee.

NWA’s bag fees start Thursday
[Detroit Free Press]
(Photo: So Cal Metro )


Edit Your Comment

  1. tom2133 says:

    You know, I still laugh when I see Northwest Airlines’ livery and see NWA in big letters. Just love the “gangsta rap” reference I see there.

  2. What’s next? A Boarding Fee? Like, you get to the gate with your boarding pass, but you won’t be allowed to get on the plane unless you pay them 15 bucks.
    Or maybe a Seat Fee? So, it’s either 15 bucks or you have to stand the whole flight.
    Oh, I know! A Flight Attendant fee! If you need a flight attendant for anything, you have to pony up a fiver. Of course, that’ll be $5 for each instance of speaking to one of them lovely ladies.

    • the_wiggle says:

      @Duffin: ssssshhhhhhhh!!!!!!! you’re givin’ them ideas!

      @picardia: best idea seen yet for dealing with the asininity formerly known as reasonable travel.

      @blockbustarhymes: excellent question! will it have an equally excellent answer? nah. we just now pay for the roulette wheel of traveling with checked luggage.

      @thaJack: would love to see how that turns out.

  3. BrianDaBrain says:

    What’s next is the breathable air fee, followed closely by the carry-on fee and the boarding pass fee, the ticket scanning fee, the airport security fee, and mechanical safety inspection fee. Why don’t they just start charging people a we-can’t-afford-fuel-fee and at least be honest about it?

  4. akacrash says:

    Chances are they really will charge for carry ons.

  5. gibbergabber says:

    I have a flight to CA in October. I’m checking it regularly now just to be sure I’m still booked. I’ve always booked a flight and forgotten about it until the day of. Now I have calendar events to remind me to check the status of my flight. How these airlines are allowed to get away with this continues to baffle me.

  6. Arcy says:

    What made it even worse was the sign right behind the Skycap’s desk that still said the first bag was free. I only found out about it once I was halfway through check-in. I know I didn’t have a choice, but is it really that difficult to throw a note up saying that there’s a new fee? I’ll even lend you guys my pen…so long as you don’t charge me for it somehow. -Colin

  7. picardia says:

    I am paying Travelsmith for a lightweight packable blanket, inflatable pillow and carryons that will take care of my every need, and my grocer for some granola bars to haul on the journey. One overpriced bottle of water post-security, and I’m set.

    You really have to go into airline travel with an adversarial/survivalist mindset, I think. It helps.

  8. bbagdan says:

    Yup, it’s us against them.

    However, this “a la carte” pricing structure means you really get what you pay for. But airlines should offer a discount if you do not want a meal, checked bags, etc. This is better than “nickel and diming”.

    Remember folks, if you manage a business, take your revenge by never hiring soon-to-be-unemployed airline management employees.

  9. vastrightwing says:

    I want the crying baby fee! PALEEESSSEEE!

  10. I don’t see the big deal. Northwest’s been collecting fees from the taxpayers of Minnesota for years, even if you don’t fly the airline.

  11. pb5000 says:

    If I’m flying alone I always try for carry on only.

    Luckily the majority of the places I go aren’t too bad of a drive.

  12. thaJack says:

    I wonder how this applies to those carrying firearms in checked bags.
    The federal government gives you the right to transport firearms
    lawfully on commercial flights when they are carried, declared and
    unloaded, in a checked bag.

    Since to exercise this right you must check a bag, I wonder if they
    are still able to charge you for it.

    I’m waiting for someone to say, “fine, I’ll save myself $15 and just
    carry it on.”

    • Javert says:

      @thaJack: It probably applies the same was as liquids. You have the right to carry them but nowhere is it stated that the right is without a charge to you.

  13. startertan says:

    Next time I fly I’m wearing EVERY single thing that I wanted to bring with me. See how they like it when the Chinese Michelin man wants to board the plane.

    • kepler11 says:

      @startertan: Next time I fly I’m wearing EVERY single thing that I wanted to bring with me.

      Well, you’ll really show them, huh.

      The bag fee, if you all haven’t caught on/understood yet and gotten on with life, is to 1) make money from people who have a need to check bags and are captive to that requirement, 2) reduce the amount of baggage handling staff and liability that each bag incurs, or at least offset some of that cost.

      Why are people still acting like this is a surprise? This is how it is, so stop crying about it. It’s how you and I made it become, by buying airfares the way we do and the competitive environment of US domestic airlines.

      • Rachael says:


        Except it’s now going to be even MORE miserable in the cabin when people fumble with carry-on. I’ve checked my bags because I aim to be a little more courteous to those on the plane with me so I’m not fumbling with overhead bins and grousing about the lack of space.

        People will find ways around this and it will make traveling more obnoxious.

        • SadSam says:


          I agree, I normally check my bag on direct flights so I don’t have to worry about fussing with my luggage through security (I don’t have to think about the 3 oz. rules) or fighting with others on the flight for overhead space, etc.

          People are still taking luggage on planes they just are trying to now stuff it all in the cabin slowing down departures, etc.

          • kepler11 says:

            @SadSam: People are still taking luggage on planes they just are trying to now stuff it all in the cabin slowing down departures, etc.

            there have not been a great uptick in reports of people actually doing this — only a small number of people take time to think ahead to try to game the system this way.

            Also, gate agents are being trained to be more restrictive about oversized carryons and people clearly trying to circumvent the carryon restrictions.

      • wee0x1B says:

        @kepler11: No, it’s not how I made it. I fly Southwest, or I don’t fly (I absolutely refuse to fly Delta any more). Southwest made long-term arrangements for fuel, unlike NWA and others. And they don’t charge bullshit fees as a result.

        Actually, they never did. You want to change a flight? Sure, you can do that right through the web site. Move to a different flight? Yep. Want to sit in front? get there early (or buy a business class ticket for $25 more). I had to move a flight with America West one time, and it wound up costing me nearly double the original ticket price. No thanks.

        Other airlines are full of fail. Southwest gets my money.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @kepler11: Really? I get the feeling that NW is only doing this to fall in line with DL for the upcoming merger.

        Oh well- I generally don’t fly purely domestic flights so I don’t really mind (and if I do I can always ask someone else to do my booking for me- after all, it’s waived for elites).

  14. This 15$ price tag really annoys me, I had to force my sister to not take a bag when we travelled home because I was moving back there and NEEDED two bags. It would have cost 30$ more than what I paid if I had checked two bags.

  15. blockbustarhymes says:

    Here’s what I’d really more interested to know: Do i get a refund if you lose my bag? I mean, I’d have paid 15 bucks for it to be checked and you didn’t provide the service properly. EECBs!

    Glad I flew Northwest last month though…whew

    Oh and to the person who was saying why are they nickel-and-diming you instead of giving you a discount? Guess what? They are giving you a discount, you’re not getting any water/cokes/food that you don’t feel is worth what they are charging.

  16. lidor7 says:

    In comparison to the airlines that charge $25 or $50 or even charge for the first bag, $15 seems fairly reasonable, especially given that the charge only applies to domestic flights. It seems like a smart idea.

    I’m not too familiar with the airline business, but I was always under the impression that most of their domestic flight business probably comes from frequent fliers that are traveling for a few days or a week for a business trip. This means that they’ll probably be packing light anyways.

    So instead of charging everyone $15 more, they’re just charging $15 for those who insist on bringing extra luggage on a domestic flight.

  17. kirschey says:

    I fly NWA all the time at least 3 times a year to visit family and most of the time I take one bag, but to change a fee for a bag that is less that 50 lbs seems to be nickel-and-diming it. I will now only carry on my luggage.

    They honestly need a new business plan. Modifying the old one to alienate all of your loyal customers will only decrease the amount of business you do, not increase the cash flow. It is time for the airline to start declaring bankruptcy. I just hope some actually stay out of business until they can learn to do it right.

  18. brokeincollege says:

    They all need to go under. UA, US Air, NWA, Delta, all of them. Maybe not Continental, I heard they were pretty well run.

    And by the way some people CAN’T pack light. People like me, who have to fly to get up to school and haul 4 months’ worth of clothes when I can’t leave some behind in my dorm. Or leave at home and pick up later. Unlike some who go to college 40 minutes away, I fly across the country 4 times a year.

    Don’t even think of telling me to go home more often either, because each trip costs me $400. Minimum.

    Given that I’m going to do most of my flying with Star Alliance carriers (UA, US Airways, Continental in the foreseeable future) I’ll just have to learn to be a carryon ninja.

  19. LionelEHutz says:

    So, we the American taxpayer, give the airlines billions in taxpayer money for bailouts and this is how those ungrateful bastards treat us.

    Next time they are about to go bankrupt I say let them fail. Good riddance.

  20. poetree522 says:

    I just flew United and was charged $125 for my checked suitcase being overweight by 5 pounds. I was told if I couldn’t pay that I should throw some stuff in my luggage away or find an alternative way home.
    I wish that was the worst of it, but it wasn’t. When I arrived at my destination, I noticed my suitcase ripped and a bunch of stuff missing. Even though they are trying to not take responsibility and not reimburse me, I am going to make a big stink about their despicable and disgusting business “practices”.
    Sorry for venting.

  21. yevarechecha says:

    I attempted to buy a coach ticket from DC to Minneapolis on Northwest a few weeks ago. It was $815. I know gas prices are up, but holy crap.

    I’m now flying from DC to Atlanta to Minneapolis on Delta for $275. As far as I know, they are not charging for the first checked bag, which is good, because with only a 55-minute layover at Hartsfield, my bag is sure to miss my connection. Heck, I’m probably sure to miss my connection. I can’t pack light, because like poster brokeincollege, I have to last through Thanksgiving.

    Airlines will keep charging for this up to the point that it becomes cheaper for the passenger to ship the bag. My duffel weighs 40 pounds, so they’re not even close yet.

  22. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    I must be the oddity because, knock on formica, I’ve never had a luggage problem myself.

    This is just asinine though. As if the cabins weren’t bad enough with the idiots schlepping almost everything on in carry-on luggage already!

    I think the airlines, airports, aircraft designers, luggage manufacturers, and the baggage machine manufacturers should get together and create a standard carry-on size (about the size of a good backpack) AND a standard ~60″ bag design that provides interlocks for easy stacking / un-stacking. Furthermore, you are allowed ONE carry-on of the appropriate size / rough shape (to fit in the overhead bins neatly) and that’s farking it.

    There’s a LOT of other people involved here because for it to work you’ll have to have the sorters automatically separating arrival and connection luggage. The aircraft designers will have to redesign the cargo bays and the overhead bins a little too! The airports will have to buy new automated luggage sorters / stackers / un-stackers.

    Would it work?

    Maybe. One thing it will stop is the idiot line that’s generated for exiting a plane because some moron is hauling his suitcase (which just crushed my portable DVD player) and stuffing it into the overhead compartment.

  23. shrique says:

    If you can plan ahead it’s almost cheaper to ship your stuff ahead of you. (GRIN) You can at least lock it up and then you don’t have to worry about some security guy digging through your stuff.

    $25 to ship 25lbs 3day via fedex from MPLS to Jacksonville, FL.

  24. jrockway says:

    To the poster complaining about the airlines alienating their loyal customers with these fees… they don’t assess the fee on their loyal customers. They only assess the fees on the once-a-year discount economy customers. Plus, if they didn’t assess the fee, they would just charge $15 more on the ticket.

    So who cares?