Friday, May 18, 2012

Are Checked Bag Fees Backfiring On Airlines?

Checked bag fees seem to be the bane of the traveler's existence. Passengers are forced to pay these fees, which can be upwards of $50, on top of already high airfares.

According to the Transportation Department, revenue from those fees went down to 3.36 billion from 3.4 billion. Yes, it's still a lot of money, but it signals that passengers are finally starting to pack lighter, instead of carrying their entire lives with them on the plane.

"We'll damage your bag at no extra charge."

I have mixed feelings about checked bag fees. On the one hand, I understand that airlines need to make money, and this is a good way to make a quick buck. On the other hand, I think that the 'law of unintended consequences' is at play here.

Charging passengers to check their bags means passengers will bring more onto the plane with them. I've seen countless people trying to shove overstuffed suitcases into the overhead bin. On full flights, the last few passengers to board will sometimes have to have their suitcase checked because there's no more room.

There's really no win-win with baggage fees. There gets to be a point when airlines start nickel-and-diming passengers (most will say they already do).

Photo Credit: Masaru Kamikura Used under the Creative Commons license.

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