Watch Your Bags – Big $$$ For The Airlines

It used to be when you purchased an airline ticket you could count on several things, the plane would probably be late, your baggage may or not make it to your destination at the same time you arrive and they would feed you a slab of mystery meat between two pieces of stale bread, but the price of the ticket was clear and what you paid to fly from point A to point B with your bags was set. Not anymore…

I have no problem with the airlines stopping in flight food service for many flights. Low quality food just got wasted, a waste for the airlines and the customer. If it is a short flight and you are hungry but something in the airport and bring it onboard.  But I do have a real problem with the continued increased costs for checking bags. The costs have rapidly progressed until the cost of your bags can now exceed the cost of your ticket. Stepping into the airport can be a new and expensive experience for you these days. No longer can you just jump out on Kayak or Orbitz and find the lowest cost flight and expect it to be the lowest cost flight. Now you have to decide how many bags you are going to check and how much that will add to your travel costs.





  1st Bag 2nd Bag 1st Bag 2nd Bag  
Delta $25 $35 Free Free-$75 International bag charges vary depending on the country you are going to, 2nd bag to Central America, Mexico, Caribbean $30, Europe $60$75 other countries the 2nd bag is free
United $25 $35 Free-$25 $40-$70 United has a very complex 2nd bag charge schedule based on the country you are going to and when you bought your ticket
US Airways $25 $35 Free -$25 Free-$70 US Airways charges $25 for a 1st bag to Latin America or the Caribbean and $35 for the 2nd bag. 2nd bag to Europe is $70
American $25 $35 Free $30-$50 American charges $30 for 2nd bag to Caribbean, Central and South America and $50 for a 2nd bag to Europe or India
Continental $25 $35 Free $40-$70 Continental charges $40 for a 2nd bag and $70 for most other countries with the exception of Japan where the 2nd bag is free
Southwest Free Free Free Free  
Jet Blue $25 $35 $25 $35  
Air France Free $75 Free Free  
KLM Free $75 Free Free  

On a recent search for a trip to New York from Raleigh North Carolina, I could fly on American Airlines for $119 round trip. Southwest Airlines had the same trip for $142 but if I plan to check two bags the actual cost of the trip is $189 for the American flight and still $142 for the Southwest flight. Go Southwest!

These baggage policies are deceptive and confusing. The airlines are raising the cost so quickly; the price you pay for bags also depends on when you bought your ticket.  Travel sites should include these baggage charges in the ticket price or at least notify the customer before buying the tickets.  These policies encourage people to carry on everything, slowing the boarding process and frustrating customers even more. Some of these charges can be avoided depending on the status you have with the airline frequent flyer program or other options like a premium credit card that has a relationship with the airline.

What’s next? Count on it being a very short window before the airlines start gouging us for all baggage, checked or carry-on.  Pretty soon they will be weighing you with your bags and your ticket will be based on total weight, hmmm maybe a good weight loss and light packing incentive.