Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nickel and Dimed: Airline Fees to Know Before You Go.

I’ve heard a lot of questions lately regarding the new airline policies for checked luggage. In general, passengers on most airlines can no longer check two pieces of luggage free of charge. In many cases, passengers may check the first bag free of charge, but the second bag costs $25. Prices for additional checked bags also increased dramatically, as did the fees for oversize/overweight bags. It pays to know before you go.

A few airlines have also increased their fees, and/or added new fees, for simple luxuries such as, window and aisle seats, comfortable legroom, over-the phone-bookings, and more. The bottom line is that airlines continue to struggle and they’re trying to nickel and dime their passengers to make up the difference. How much do their CEO’s continue to earn despite our unbalanced transportation system? Sorry, I digress.

The good news is that most international travelers can still check two bags free of charge. Beware though, because if you change airlines in the U.S and have to recheck your bags, then you may have to pay a surcharge for the domestic leg of your journey.

Personally, I recommend that international travelers fly with one bag anyway. I also hope that these new policies cut down on the amount of baggage that flows daily through our airports. It’s better for everybody from many perspectives.

Just look at the photo from last year's Dolomites Trek. This group actually traveled relatively light with only one bag per person.



The light way is the right way in my book, though skis and snowboards will always be a challenge worth paying a little extra for.

The other good news is that this fee does not apply to all people on all flights. While policies vary, the charge is generally limited to passengers sitting in economy class seats on flights in North America. The policies also tend to exclude elite members of frequent flier programs, and they do not apply to anyone flying in business or first class.

The policy change first started with U.S. Airways, but then quickly spread to American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest, and United. Several smaller carriers also enacted similar policies including, Air Canada, Alaska Air, Air Tran and JetBlue.

The following Travelocity FAQ lists the most current changes to airline policy. You can go straight from their page to the carrier’s website, (Or click on one of our links above). Give them a look if you’re in doubt. It just might pay to double-check your particular airline before heading out the door.

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