Checked Baggage Fees: From LCCs to Legacies
May 13, 2008
It started with Ryanair. Then it crossed the Atlantic and the Spirit caught on with Allegiant and Virgin America, too. U.S. legacy carriers Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways added checked baggage fees. American – with its announcement on April 28 – is the most recent airline to join the club. Who’s next?
Checked baggage fee rules differ by carrier, by fare class, by destination… There are so many variations that it might, in fact, actually be easier to look at what airlines have not implemented checked baggage fees. In most cases, the fees do not apply to the following groups:
- Elite travelers
- Business and first class travelers
- Full-fare coach travelers (Y class)
The new fees are primarily policy changes of U.S. airlines. United Airlines estimates this charge will generate $100 million in annual revenue. This is sorely needed revenue in today’s high fuel cost environment.
Travelers on most U.S. airlines are still able to check one bag for free. The one bag for domestic travel restriction already applies to domestic travelers on British Airways (those traveling within the UK) and Qantas (those traveling within Australia). The lowest of the low-cost carriers – including Ryanair, Spirit and EasyJet – charge for all checked bags. Other carriers, including Lufthansa and Singapore, use the weight concept method for certain flights, with restrictions on total weight and not the number of bags. And, carriers such as Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest still allow domestic travelers two checked bags for free. Will this strategy be enough to translate into more passengers?
Following are links to the policies of select airlines around the world.
- Air Canada
- Spirit Airlines
- US Airways
- Virgin America
Note: Fees discussed in this article are primarily fees for checked baggage and not excessive baggage weight fees. For additional information about the fees charged by each airline, please visit their Web sites.
Source: Company Web sites and news releases.