Are Luggage Fees the Tipping Point?

by Kay Lynn

Over the past decade airlines have cut back on included items and begun charging for most extras including pillows, blankets, and food.  They even tried to charge for non-alcoholic beverages (which flopped thankfully).  With the decline of the economy came a new fee – one for checked baggage.

Luggage Fees – the Beginning

The luggage fee was supposedly to offset skyrocketing fuel prices a couple of years ago.  Fuel prices have dropped a significant percentage from the all-time high but the charges have remained.  They have not only remained but increased with the most recent round just going into effect raising many from $20 for the first bag to $25.

AS this chart shows this seems to be primarily a domestic airline trend. Only Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines check any free bags and even Jet Blue charges for the second.

Passenger Impact

Does this change passenger behavior? It changed ours. Mr. Boomer and I decided to cruise locally for our Spring vacation primarily to avoid flying. A 10 day cruise requires more than one carry-on a piece and would add up to $240 for four bags round trip.

During my emergency trip due to mom’s hospitalization last month the cheapest option was American Airlines.  I refused to pay $50 in luggage fee and carried on.  Yes, it was inconvenient to drag my suitcase around the Dallas airport but it was more important to have that money for other things.


Normally, I will choose other airlines over Southwest for longer flights due to the entertainment options and assigned seating. Not anymore; these perks aren’t worth $120 per person (they need to update their price in the video below).  This limits destinations to those cities seved by SWA.

Are other passengers making the same decisions?  Time will tell but I wonder if the airlines have gone too far this time.

Content © Bucksomeboomer  2009-2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Teresa C February 5, 2010 at 6:16 am

It impacts my decision on who to fly. I am flying on Jetblue to Long Beach in May, rather than pay luggage fees on my preferred airline. And for any cross country trip it will be southwest or Jet Blue

Bucksome February 5, 2010 at 6:23 am

Teresa, glad to know we’re not the only ones. I wonder if travelers like us will have any impact?

Thank you for commenting. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Louise February 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

It is ridiculous. They are making it harder for families to travel. To be afford to travel. I’m not sure what we can do really, though, except just stay home.
.-= Louise ´s last blog ..California Baby Valentine’s Day Line, Cold and Flu Collection #giveaway =-.

Majickman February 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

The baggage fees have definitely changed how I travel. I absolutely refused to fly on Southwest Airlines for many years, largely due to the same things you mentioned…..entertainment options and assigned seating.
This past summer, my daughter and I went on a cruise that departed from Miami and we flew Southwest because of the baggage fees charged by other airlines. I am currently planning a trip to New York City for later this year, and though I am checking fares with other airlines, I will more than likely be using Southwest for that trip as well.

Bucksome February 7, 2010 at 6:37 am

Hi Majickman, it is a balance between the fare and the fees. The important thing is to take the fees into consideration when making the airline selection.

Thank you for your comment!

Paula Jameson February 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm

This past summer, my daughter and I went on a cruise that departed from Miami and we flew Southwest because of the baggage fees charged by other airlines.

Paula Jameson

Bucksome February 7, 2010 at 6:36 am

Hi Paula, I’m glad to see that it’s not just me that’s fed up with these fees. (P.S. I like cruising also!).

H Lee D February 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm

My husband and I traveled cross country for Christmas, and even after taking bags into account plus a $150 gift card, Southwest was still significantly more expensive. So we jammed everything into carry-ons (didn’t need dress clothes, thankfully) and didn’t check bags at all, making it even a little cheaper.

Bucksome February 8, 2010 at 5:12 am

Yes, sometimes you have to go with the less expensive flights. Not checking bags when that happens is a good way to save even more. Thanks for your comment. Hope you stop by again.

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