Airline Bag Fees: Expect to Pay More

7 years ago

American Airlines is hiking its first checked bag fee to $25, starting Feb. 1. Surprisingly, there's no savings if you pay advance (when you buy your ticket online) as other airlines offer.

United, Delta/Northwest, Continental, and US Airways have all hiked their fees for checked baggage. They all offer a couple of dollars off the fee if you pay it at the time you buy your ticket online.--This Just In

You might as well start mentally adding about 50 dollars to your mental calculations for what that trip is going to cost you. Yes, that's per person, per ticket, and yes, if you're a family of four rather than one light traveler, yes, that's an additional 200$ you didn't plan for and no, you're not happy about that. No one is.

Checking bags started as a way to make traveling easier, especially on crowded flights. In the past few years, tighter regulations about liquids and limited carry-ons have forced more people to check bags. Now with expensive fees for each bag, travelers can anticipate other passengers maximizing their two carry-ons.--Nile Guidance: Soaring Baggage Fees on Major Airlines

Bag fees irritate the daylights out of me. It's not that I object to paying for transportation of my stuff. It's that the result of bag fees has been a land grab in the cabin, added stress to boarding and seating, and less leg room for everyone because "you'll need to place that personal item under the seat."

If the airlines increased fares across the board by 50 dollars a round trip, I'll pay it. Nickel and dime me, though, and I get cranky. And I won't check my bag either, because I'm cantankerous, not because I like an opportunity to display my weak upper body strength.

This guy says that luggage fees are good for us because a la carte pricing keeps airfare affordable. And this guy argues that discouraging baggage lowers our carbon footprint. I don't agree with this thinking about why travelers pack heavy, but I do think that charging for the second bag, only, makes some sense.

I'm a pretty skilled packer. I can get everything I need for a ten day trip (and therefore, a limitless one!) into my regulation sized carry on and a daypack. In fact, I probably take more than I need, especially if I'm heading somewhere warm. I've been traveling carry-on only for years now, not because I'm some "better than you traveler" but because in the world of travel, being both fashion challenged and cheap is a tremendous bonus. Still, I've found myself needing to check my bag now and then, usually because I've just picked up too much stuff in the course of my travels ( ukulele... cough). If that happens to you, you're at the mercy of the airlines.

We don't know if you've visited the web site of a major airline lately and attempted to decode their baggage policies but a significant number of the airlines have baggage policies that are not only buried deeply in their sites but written in a less than clear fashion.

Luggage Limits catalogs the baggage policies of over 90 airlines.--LifeHacker: Avoid Airline Charges by Checking Luggage Limits Before You

Regardless of the airlines new and increasing fees, my advice to you remains the same. Travel light. If you can avoid checking your bag, you'll save money AND time. If your luggage is easy to deal with, you'll sail through connections and transitions -- it's easier to get in and out of trains, planes, and automobiles. Also, if you're worrying about your stuff, you're not focused on your trip, and that's no way to travel. I'll say it again. Travel light. There's more incentive than ever to do so.

Nerd's Eye View

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