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Jan. 12 2010 - 12:53 pm | 421 views | 1 recommendation | 6 comments

Airline Luggage Fees Are Good For Travelers

Passengers wait for their luggage as UEFA EURO...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Cue the carping. The “horrible” airlines have gone and raised fees again. This came in via America’s Greatest Newspaper today:

ATLANTA—Attention air travelers: That tug at your wallet is about to happen again, courtesy of the world’s biggest airline.

Delta Air Lines Inc. is raising its fees to check your first bag on a domestic flight by $8 and the second bag by $7. That will mean $23 for the first bag and $32 for the second.

While submitting to fees to check baggage is most certainly irritating, it is nonetheless good for the average traveler. Because airlines have increasingly adopted an a la carte approach to services, tickets have remained remarkably affordable.

Some time ago, the American airline industry took a collectivist approach to pricing. Whether or not you checked baggage, used the headphones, or drank a ton of those mini booze bottles (and why not?),  you paid for the privilege of doing so through higher ticket prices. That is to say: those who didn’t check baggage subsidized those who did. The result of this pricing scheme was terribly expensive ticket prices for all – and, consequently, a dearth of mobility and liberty for the average American.

Because many airlines now charge openly for services that were once hidden in higher ticket prices, flying has become remarkably affordable – even on major international carriers like Delta. The prices for luggage transport, food, beverage, and entertainment have by and large been stripped for ticket prices. The subsequent democratization of flying has meant a more free, interconnected, and cosmopolitan world.

How has this happened?  The answer is, so to speak, in the bag.

via Delta Raises Baggage Fees – WSJ.com.


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  1. collapse expand

    I’m sympathetic to your argument here.

    But what’s really annoying to me is that the airlines have hired bottom-rung low-wage contractors, basically posing as security personnel, to pull you out of the TSA line and send you back to the check-in counter when you aren’t traveling with luggage you intend to check in.

    I have a suitcase that’s literally about one to two inches too long for their current set of arbitrary standards for what you can and can’t carry on, and twice now they’ve tried to charge me to check in luggage on flights that weren’t full. In fact, on one of those flights *all* carry-on suitcases regardless of size had to be gate-checked because of the size of the overhead compartments on the plane, so the whole issue of ‘carry on’ was rendered moot.

    So while I welcome the a la carte approach to ticketing, I think it’s a little hypocritical that they’ll turn around and put a set of one-size-fits-all standards on passengers and their luggage, all so they can squeeze another few greasy bucks out of me.

  2. collapse expand

    I think this also has to be considered in light of recent events, both terror and bad-service related. Flying is such a hassle, and this is yet another hassle to add to the multitude of hassles. Whoever can invent the next form of travel that will get me somewhere quick without all the rigamarole will be a trillionaire, I think. Hyper-space button?

  3. collapse expand

    I’d pay anything if the airlines would get my luggage to its destination on the same day I’m traveling. That said, I’m shipping my luggage for my next international trip but I’m a little concerned that even with a R/T ticket I’m going to look like something other than a tourist. These days, no matter how you handle getting your luggage to the same place you are going, you are screwed.

  4. collapse expand

    They charge for bags because of fuel costs. Before they charged for bags, they lowered the maximum weight on bags.
    I’d be fine with charging for luggage if they weighed passengers and luggage alike.

  5. collapse expand

    While this may be true to some extent prices have been low for the past couple years (especially since airline deregulation and the influx of price-oriented competition a la JetBlue). As I understand it the baggage fees came into effect to counter losses due to rising fuel prices. Now that fuel prices have dropped do we see any relief? No. Look at Southwest–they hedged fuel prices years ago and are one of the only airlines that does not charged for checked baggage.

    Personally I can see charging for two bags, but in my opinion the first checked bag should be included in ticket prices. This is especially true for any flight over a couple hours.

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    About Me

    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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