Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Discourse on Baggage Fees.

For some time now I've known that eventually I would have to do what so many others have done before me...rant about checked bag fees. But I'll start this with a statement I've seen so few of those other people make: Dear Airlines, I understand where you're coming from.

You're running a business. You need to make money. The more, heavier bags that we passengers check, the more fuel is burned. And fuel is expensive right now. And as you certainly can't go around weighing passengers and charging those of us who aren't, you know, super skinny more than those who are...then charging for checked bags, it is.

But there has got to, Got To, GOT TO be a better way! I mean, I remember back when you first started charging for bags. $15 each way seemed so awful at the time, but looking back I guess we didn't know how good we had it. Then there was that brief period of time when you could pay less if you prepaid for your bag check online...which didn't make much sense considering you still had to go up to the desk at the airport and have someone print you a baggage sticker, but hey, it was something!

Only now here it is, 2011 and $25 to check a bag. Each way. And there's no discount for prepaying anymore. So guess what happens? Every asshole and his or her mother, father, sister, brother, child brings two carry-ons. And I know that these carry-ons are smaller than the bags we would normally check, so sure, you're probably saving yourself a couple hundred pounds of luggage weight in the end. But then there's also the hassle of reminding and re-reminding people that one bag has to go under the seat in front of them--and let's face it, plenty of those people don't listen. And when the flight is full, there's all that extra time it takes to check the bags that won't fit because everyone has two carry-ons, and the second carry on is almost always the max carry on size, and then they won't put one of the two under the seat in front of them. And you can't really charge to check a bag at this point, so aren't you kind of losing out on money there?

So. $25 to check a bag? Each way? Seriously? That is one giant rip-off. Say I'm going to Las Vegas for three nights. If I check a bag it's likely to weigh around 30 pounds because I'm going on a short trip and bringing warm weather/teeny tiny going out clothes. Some other chick on the plane is going to New York City for a week and her bag weighs 50 pounds. Yet we both have to pay $25 to check our bags? Tell me you also see what's wrong with this picture. Especially since nowadays there's, again, no discount for prepaying...and we have to get our bags weighed anyway because heaven forbid they weigh 51 pounds...and if they do we have to take stuff out or pay another flat fee on top of the $25 we've already coughed up...after paying $195+ (because that's the least amount of money I've paid for a plane ticket in years and years) for a seat on your flight!

I have a hard time believing that no one before me has made this suggestion. I'm going to refrain from waxing on about how greedy you are for charging this flat $25 per bag, each way rate. But can we please, please, PLEASE start charging by bag weight? Because then, the aforementioned bag that I would be checking to Las Vegas would only cost me, say, $15 at 50 cents a pound, whereas that girl with the 50 pound bag would be paying your full ::cough::still a rip off::cough:: fee of $25. And then that poor soul whose bag weighs, say, 55 pounds would only have to pay $27.50 rather than the exorbitant $115 (***???***when did that extra fee become $90 by the way***???***) you would usually charge him or her.

And yes, I know that you think you wouldn't be making as much money off us. But you would cut down on a lot of hassle for when we go through security and when we try to store our carry-ons on the plane. And I guarantee that your flight attendants - you know, those folks who work a pretty stressful job made more stressful by the constant repetition of "please store your personal item under the seat in front of you" and then having to explain to those nice (and not so nice) passengers why they have to check their carry on because half of the people on the plane didn't listen to the rules about storing something under the seat in front of them - would much prefer this arrangement.

And in the end, some people would check a bag if they knew that they were getting, as much as I hate to say it, a "better deal". I for one don't want to lug around two carry -ons - one of which is inevitably ridiculously heavy - if I don't have to. But I can't justify checking a weekend's worth of clothes and toiletries at $50 per round trip.

So what do you say, airlines? How about making the intelligent choice for once? No?


  1. i am sure there are security reasons involved, plus i bet they dont want people at the counter handling money. good idea in theory though!

  2. I'd love to hear their so called "security reasons" - I mean, they x-ray every single bag that goes on a plane nowadays. As for money, they already handle it for every person who does check a bag ::shrug::

  3. We took a flight once from St. Louis to Charlotte to Charlottesville. On the way home, in C'Ville, US Airways charged people at the gate $25 if their bag didn't fit into the "sample carry-on bag measurer" thing. They charged them AT THE GATE! Now, they didn't require you to measure it, but if it didn't end up fitting in the overhead (these were tiny planes, I'm sure you know them, living in Lynchburg), you'd be charged anyway.

    This is why I make SURE to get on the plane VERY early. I ensure I have enough space in the overhead for my bag and then chill until we leave. I'm not risking having to check, regardless of whether I have to pay.

  4. I find paying for baggage (unless you have extra) obnoxious and I refuse to do it. I will carry my crap on and they can deal with it.

  5. I'm dreading this, because I'm leaving for orlando (then honolulu) in 2 days. Bah.

  6. AMEN sister! I think it is complete crap and I wish there were more airlines like SouthWest (who apparently are the only ones that value their customers) because they don't charge a fee at all and actually have good rates. But they don't fly out of ATL. Sigh.

  7. @Stacy from ELT - Whooaaa I've never heard of them charging to check carry-ons once people were ON the plane! Really they have no way to do so unless people have cash, anyway! As it is, I only check when I'm going somewhere for more than 3 nights and then only because I end up needing too many toiletries etc...I'm a bit of an overpacker (though I don't have a problem with going overWEIGHT on checked bags...hmmm)

    @Meri - It's obnoxious but unfortunately with longer trips it's a necessary evil for most people :-/ and the airlines know that.

    @Katie - have fun on your trip! are you doing Orlando and Honolulu back to back? good luck keeping your bag at/under 50 pounds if so! (I mean that in all seriousness, not trying to sound sarcastic at all)

    @Stacy - I agree about Southwest. They just started flying out of Greenville and I'm super excited! However their flight prices haven't really been that great which is a bit disappointing :(

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  9. *sorry, reposting cause I found a typo and I have grammar OCD*
    I'm getting so frustrated with this too. I was SO excited when I learned Jet Blue does the first bag free. I hate when it takes forever to board because people think their entire wardrobe in their "carry on" is going to fit in the overhead.... come on... No.
    I actually heard one guy go, "THIS is what happens when you charge people to check bags"
    I didn't really think about it until then. I just wish when gas went down (cause it has to, dammit) that fee would too! So ridiculous to factor in that added expense for every trip!