Parents of young children: Have your wee ones been getting a free ride on domestic flights by sitting on your lap? Well that luxury is just one of several things the airline industry is considering slapping a fee on in the near future.
Even though we’re paying oft-ridiculous fees for checked bags on airplanes, none of that ancillary revenue seems to be going toward improving the actual checking in or tracking of said bags. That’s why it’s refreshing to hear a story where a screwed-over passenger stands up to this general ineptitude and comes out victorious.
In an attempt to alleviate the annoyance of checked baggage fees, all while drumming up some business, Holiday Inn — along with other IHG-brand hotels — will pay up to $50 of your fees if you book a weekend stay with your Visa card.
In terms of public relations, 2010 hasn’t exactly been a banner year for Spirit Airlines. First, they ticked people off by announcing they would begin charging up to $45/bag for carry-on luggage, then they introduced “pre-reclined” seats. They were shut down for about a week because of a strike, and then there was the ill-advised “check out the oil on our beaches” promo. But the company’s CEO doesn’t understand why travelers aren’t lining up to thank him.
American Airlines was the first of the major airlines to start tacking on fees for checked bags, and now its the first airline to face a class action lawsuit over the fees from a ticked-off passenger. And it all started over one piece of lost luggage.
A newly released study shows that airlines around the globe are raking in cash from ancillary revenue like baggage fees. Worldwide, carriers collected $13.5 billion in fees last year, an increase of 43% over the previous year. And sitting high atop that pile was United Airlines.
As reported earlier today, the Government Accountability Office thinks airlines could do a lot more to be transparent about the fees they charge. And buried about 45 pages deep in the GAO’s report are two very helpful tables detailing fees for checked bags and other items that U.S.-based airlines charge extra for.
As checked baggage fees continue to rise — and with nickel-and-dime carriers beginning to charge for carry-ons — it’s becoming more and more popular for air travelers to ship some of their belongings directly to and from their destinations. Now, UPS has taken it to the next level, introducing a cardboard suitcase that gives you the options of checking, carrying-on or shipping.
It’s not just air travelers who get confused by the variety of charges, weight limits and size regulations placed on baggage by all the airlines. The carriers themselves are often befuddled by their own byzantine systems, especially when it comes to travelers transferring between airlines over the course of a long flight. That’s why the the International Air Transport Association announced today the creation of a central database that will provide carriers, travel agents and passengers with all the info they need about their bags.
In the aftermath of Spirit Airlines’ announcement that they’ll be charging up to $45 for carry-on bags, five airlines have pledged that they won’t jump on the fee bandwagon. New York Sen. Charles Schumer said today that American, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways and JetBlue have told him they won’t start charging for carry-ons.
Executives love to justify price increases or staff reductions by hauling out the customer service argument, because then any complaint you make can be framed as self-defeating. (“Don’t you want better service?”) On that note, Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza told travel blogger Christopher Elliott last week that the new carry-on bag fee is really intended to reduce gate delays. Remember to send a thank-you card to Baldanza.
Delta has increased its checked baggage fees, effective today. Your first bag now costs $23 and your second, $32, up from $15 and $25, respectively.
Before you travel through the sky in the belly of a silver tube at hundreds of miles per hour, wouldn’t it be nice to know which extra fees you might be charged for doing so? Kayak has a great chart for doing just that.
How fat a bag can I bring? The ad-supported LuggageLimits compiles the carry-on and checked baggage rules for 90 airlines. Just enter your airline, ticket type, departure and arrival city and it will tell you if you’re likely to hit any fee turbulence with your luggage. [LuggageLimits via Lifehacker]
United has just announced a program where you can pay $250 to have their normal checked baggage fees waived for a year. The plan covers 2 bags per passenger, up to 8 passengers “traveling under the same confirmation number.” Current fees are $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second, so if you travel solo a lot and always carry two bags you’ll have to make six trips before you enjoy any savings. On the other hand, if you’ve got a big family trip planned in the next year, this may be a way to shave a little off the fee gouging. But only if you’re stuck with United; BestFares.com notes that “SouthWest offers 2 free bags for free and JetBlue offers the 1st bag free.”