'A Ticket For My Luggage,' Are You Kidding Me? [Flightmares]

ACROSS AMERICA — They may not like paying more, but readers who responded to an informal survey for Flightmares, an exclusive Patch reader-sourced column on issues associated with air travel, seem resigned to checked luggage fee hikes by major U.S. airlines.

Since January, five of the six major U.S. airlines have increased fees on checked luggage, calling it a necessary move to maintain profitability or continue the recovery from pandemic losses. Discount carrier Southwest Airlines is a holdout, saying two free checked bags are standard policy.

For years, the industry standard for checked bags was $30. Now, fees can range anywhere from $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for a second, or up to $50 or $60 for a second checked bag.

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“It’s a terrible policy that scams customers already paying more and getting less,” said Cranston (Rhode Island) Patch reader Kat.

Gloucester Township (New Jersey) Patch reader Laurie was more succinct. “It’s not right,” she said.

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Concord (New Hampshire) Patch reader Susan said she will reconsider when flying if it’s worth it to check a bag. “Airlines should just charge a bit more for a ticket instead of charging for luggage,” Susan said.

The luggage fee increases are the latest insult for Woburn (Massachusetts) Patch reader Karen, who already doesn’t fly when she can drive to her destination in eight hours.

“I don’t want to buy a plane ticket for my luggage,” Karen said, calling airline pricing in general “way out of control.”

In exchange for increased revenue from luggage checks, which aren’t subject to the 7.5 percent federal transportation tax on tickets and other services, there’s plenty airlines can do to win back her loyalty, Karen said. For starters, she said, “lower airfare, meals on planes and more legroom.”

Patch reader Bonnie thinks the fee hikes are “unnecessary, given the cost of tickets, seat upgrades and in-flight food and drink purchases.”

But as for passing some of that revenue along to customers in the form of more in-flight perks, “the airlines will never do that,” Bonnie said. “They’re only interested in the bottom line.”

J., a Reston (Virginia) Patch reader who flies Southwest and avoids checked baggage fees, nevertheless had a request — that “my bags show up at the correct airport, undamaged.”

Patch reader Bob said that for the prices airlines are charging, they should “ship my luggage to the hotel.” Bob also wants the confidence of flying on “a plane that doesn’t fall apart.”

Before the pandemic, airlines spent billions of dollars on stock buybacks, a popular way to increase corporate payouts. The practice was banned in the 2020 Cares Act, and although that ban expired, most haven’t resumed it after a public campaign against the practice by airline unions.

“Now is not the time to start sending cash to Wall Street when the airlines can’t yet meet public demand to manage effectively through operational challenges,” the unions said at the time.

With that option available but unpopular, “Maybe they’ll stack us on top of each other to turn a larger profit,” Danvers (Massachusetts) Patch reader Doug said.
Click Here: River Plate soccer tracksuitAcross America Patch reader Aaron thinks people are fussing too much about the fee hikes.

“If an extra $5 or $10 is going to break me, I’m not going to be flying anyway,” Aaron said. “Good grief. Why is this triggering for people? Tell me one thing that doesn’t cost more than it used to.”

Aaron said he doesn’t expect much in return for paying more to check his bags.

“I do rather hope they won’t lose my bag,” Aaron said. “I wouldn’t turn down an upgrade to first class and access to the fancy booze, but I don’t need or want their questionable food.”

About Flightmares

Flightmares is an exclusive monthly Patch feature on flight etiquette and other issues associated with air travel — and readers provide the answers. If you have a topic you’d like for us to consider, email beth.dalbey@patch.com with “Flightmares” as the subject line.

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