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28/03/2009 – Checked Baggage Fees : Will They Go Away? Can You Avoid Them?
Checked baggage fees have been a hot topic over the past year and I receive quite a few e-mails asking when I think the fees will be removed and how to avoid the fees.
First off, I think most flyers need to settle in and understand that these fees will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Airlines around the globe are in a financial crisis, right along with many other industries. Airlines are in business to make money and operating aircraft is expensive. Airlines are generally owned by shareholders and share holders like profits (why else would you purchase stock?). So, when US Airways announces that it took in more than US$100,000,000 in checked baggage fees in 2008, while simultaneously reducing its checked baggage loads by 20% (which reduces weight, which reduces fuel coasts, as well as related ground services costs to handle the baggage) and is on track to earn potentially more than US$300,000,000 from checked baggage fees, why would they eliminate these fees?
For those of you seeking to avoid checked baggage fees, the only way to do it is become loyal to an airline and work your way through their frequent flyer program. Within Star Alliance and One World baggage fees are waived throughout the alliance for their elite flyers. Within SkyTeam the fees are not universally waived, such as Delta Airlines only waiving fees for Delta/Northwest elites, not the elites of its partner airlines.
While I rarely check bags any more, I to find the fees annoying. When I must check a bag I intentionally try and book flights on Star Alliance carriers (United Airlines, US Airways and Air Canada when flying in North America) to avoid the fees. The baggage fees are not an issue internationally, as all the airlines I fly have no baggage fees for at least the first bag when flying internationally.
The best advice is to pack only what you need and get in on as carry-on.
Next time you think US$25 is expensive to check your bag…think of what it must cost to ship the ‘baggage’ in the photo posted below.
–Click Image To Enlarge–