Airline Baggage Fees Getting Even More Outrageous
As I write this I’m on my way home from a weekend business trip to Florida. A few minutes ago I was rushing through the busiest airport in the world to catch my connection, and I was complaining under my breath about lugging my carry-on and backpack. Then my eye caught the headline of today’s USA Today. It made my load feel a lot lighter, and my wallet a little heavier.
Here’s the headline in case you missed it: “Airline bag fees as high as $450.” The report begins by saying:
The era of the $400 airline fee has arrived. For an overweight checked bag weighing 71-100 pounds, Continental Airlines is charging $400 on most international flights, and American Airlines is charging $450 on its Asian flights. United Airlines charges $400 for checking bags weighing 71-99.9 pounds on flights to another continent.
While I don’t have an overweight checked bag, I’m not headed overseas, and certainly not faced with a $450 baggage fee, the rise in airlines fees bothers me almost as much as hearing the pilot say, “Tighten your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.” I’ve complained more than once here about how the airlines continue to gouge passengers on fees. A family of five, like mine, could pay as much as $600 in round-trip bag fees. That’s outrageous. I can’t afford that. Can you? That’s why I like to fly that “bags fly free” airline as much as possible, and lug around carry-ons when I have to fly something else.
It’s obvious I’m not the only one who tries to avoid the baggage fees much like a pilot flies around a storm. While waiting at the gate in Florida to board the first leg of my trip on a 757 where bags DON’T fly free, I looked around at the other passengers. You would’ve thought the cargo hold was empty of checked bags. It seemed like everyone was hauling a carry-on. And it also seemed they were all (me included) elbowing for a spot to get on board first to find precious overhead space in which to put that carry-on. I lost. Even though my seat was near the front, I had to squeeze my bag in one of the last overhead spots… near the BACK of the plane. If you fly, you know that’s not a recipe for a quick escape to catch your connecting flight (at the world’s busiest airport).
The USA Today story says, “The airlines say fees keep airfares low.” I don’t know about you, but it takes a little work and a lot of luck to find “low” fares today. Flying sure isn’t cheap. And as long as airlines keep tacking on the fees, I have this warning to my fellow passengers: “I’m sharpening my elbows to find a better spot next time for my carry-on in the overhead.”