With the Big 3 US airlines and JetBlue now having hiked up their baggage fees for domestic flights, the question from the customers should certainly be – “what do I get from this extra money I am giving you?” Unfortunately, the answer is just not there.
One airline tried to explain it away as this is the first time in years that they have changed the fee but the real truth is that the airlines are bringing more money in from these fees than ever, thanks to changing what passengers can bring onboard.
This Is a Baggage Fee I Would Be OK Paying
Priority Passengers = Priority Baggage Handling, Right?
Now, I am actually OK paying a baggage fee – if I can actually get some relevant benefit (beyond transporting my bag) for it. While airlines have touted for years that elite status will help you in a variety of areas, including the priority handling of bags, I have failed to actually be the benefactor of this written benefit. It doesn’t matter if I travel in business, first, or just with my elite status – I end up standing at the baggage claim watching bags without “priority” tags coming out well before my bag shows up (this happens way more than 50% of the time).
Hey, if that is my benefit, I do not think it is out of line to expect this to happen! Yet, no matter who I talk to, it never really improves.
Baggage Fee for GUARANTEED Priority Delivery
So, airlines, if you are not going to honor that benefit, how about charging for that “feature” so we can really hold you accountable then? Alaska has their 20 minute guarantee that they will deliver your bag to the carousel from the time of arrival (or else you will get $25 voucher or 2,500 miles) and Delta also has a 20 minute guarantee (though that is for 20 minutes from the time the door opens).
I would like to see the airlines offer a $5-10 upsell that will guarantee that your bag is the first group of bags off the plane. I think they could make some good money this way since many people are in a hurry to collect their bags (at some large airports, this savings of time could mean the difference between waiting 5 minutes for your rental car or over one hour).
Since those airlines already have their 20 minute offers, I would like to see something like 10-15 minutes. That would make the airlines actually have to do something with this money they are getting from baggage fees and it would at least make the customer feel that they are getting something for what they paid.
And It Will Likely Never Happen
I doubt we will see anything like this anytime soon (contract agents handling bags, delays on the tarmac, weather issues, etc) and even if we did, the airlines would probably make the process of getting a refund so difficult that no one would get one anyway.
But, with baggage fees going up while receiving nothing extra in return, I thought I would at least express what baggage fees I would be ok paying.
I really hate paying baggage fees! Fortunately, I rarely have to since I almost always travel in the Star Alliance (and I have Star Gold elite status), I am traveling in business or first class and get the bags for free, or I carry-on (which is most of the time). While these increased baggage fees are not pleasant, it is not the worst I have ever dealt with.
That “honor” belongs to Easyjet a number of years ago for a flight from Madrid to Marrakech. We had to pay something like $30 for a bag that was a carryon with all other airlines. The problem was that they lost it – when we arrived, it was nowhere to be found. They did not find it until we were back at the airport to return to Madrid – and they charged us another $30 to transport it back to Madrid. Yep, $60 for a carryon bag that they never even put in our hands.