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Do Airline Baggage Fees Raise Expectations?

Call me crazy, but I’m a big proponent of airlines raising their prices a teensy bit to eliminate all these baggage fees. Wait, wait. Hear me out. It’s not that I enjoy paying more. It’s that I like to comparison shop. With extra costs that vary from airline to airline, it’s impossible to compare the prices of flights at a glance. (Though sites like Airfare Watchdog do try to help.) This is the same strategy mattress stores use. They rename their mattresses so you can’t compare them to those carried by competitors. Their Sleep-O-Matic might be called the Snooze Xpress across town and you’d be none the wiser if the prices were different.

But over the holidays, I discovered another reason I hate baggage fees: they raise your expectations. I have long since gotten over certain airlines losing my bags, especially during the holidays. It’s practically part of the routine, and I always comforted myself with the “you get what you pay for” excuse. It was a free service on a budget carrier so frankly I could live without my stuff for one night. But now most airlines charge from $15 each way for checked baggage and the particular airline I was flying charged $25 per bag each way. FIFTY BUCKS. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Let’s just say when my little bag did not come out on the carousel, this figure was fresh in my mind. And when the airline representative told me that, in fact, they had not put my bag on the plane ON PURPOSE to reduce the weight, I had to count to ten before answering. It took my bags a full day to arrive in my hometown, and in desperation I had to go to the local Wal-Mart to grab some basic sundries.

Most people would probably let the story end here, but I have a sickness. You see, I believe in seeking fair compensation when I have been mistreated. Not only is it the principle of the matter, but I believe in encouraging better customer service. I’m really not very picky and you have to do a lot to get on what I lovingly call my Vendetta List, but once you do, watch out. I once took my cable TV provider to task for blatantly fleecing me for money, and by the end of the six-month saga, they couldn’t wait to refund my money to make me go away.

Ever since this airline lost my bags over the holidays I have been on an email writing campaign. The point I keep making to them is, if you want to charge for a service, then you must provide that service. So far they are dodging my emails but I don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.

Alison

My name: Alison Presley

Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.

How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!

What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.

Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.

Comments

Michelle
Reply

WOW, what a ridiculous lack of service! I hadn’t considered this scenario before, and I would be hopping mad if it happened to me. I hope you get compensated–keep us posted!

Nathan
Reply

If a store sells you a defective product: you get a refund.

If an airline charges you for your bags and you don’t get them: you should absolutely get a refund.

genevieve_brown
Reply

Alison — I would call out the airline in your post and send them the link to let them know you mean business. They charged you money and then intentionally did not make good on the very service they charged you for. I am actually really impressed by how calm you seem in your post but know that I am totally enraged on your behalf :)

Sean
Reply

Wow, that’s appalling—though not at all surprising.

And the fact that you even have to fight to get a refund on the service you specifically paid for and didn’t receive is at the heart of what’s wrong with the airline industry. The only reason why any of them survive is because they all act like this and we simply don’t have a better option.

Nothing But Bonfires
Reply

My blood pressure ROSE while reading this, I swear. Oh, it makes me so angry! Definitely keep us posted. I hope you get refunded and then some — maybe you could suggest that you get to check your bags for free for the rest of your life?! That’s if you even WANT to fly on this airline ever again, of course.

Alison
Reply

Ugh. I’ve hit an impasse. They say that they WOULD refund the money I spent on sundries with my receipt, but I must also have the number they gave me when they lost my bag. I’ve long since thrown that away.

Word to the wise! Keep that delayed and lost baggage info and your receipt from the drugstore!

And don’t be afraid to stand up and fight for your rights!

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