Airline Fees: What You Need to Know Before You Take to the Skies
Bookmark this handy baggage fee chart to keep tabs on how much it will cost you to check your luggage.
American Airlines announced in May that beginning June 15, 2008, most economy-class passengers would have to pay $15 for their first piece of checked luggage. Travelers waited and hoped that no other airlines would follow, and American would be forced to drop the charge. No such luck. United Airlines and US Airways announced similar policies for tickets purchased on or after June 13 and July 9, respectively. Passengers on those airlines will have to pay $15 for a first piece of checked luggage.
At the same time US Airways announced the new $15 charge, it announced several other new charges — the most interesting of which (at least for the media) was the $2 charge for non-alcoholic beverages. JetBlue no longer gives out free headsets to watch the in-flight entertainment (the headsets now cost $1).
So how did it come to this? Though airlines have been cracking down in recent years on existing charges for overweight / oversized bags, the real frenzy on charges began when US Airways announced a $25 second-checked-bag fee, and this $25 fee quickly snowballed into an industry-wide trend. The six major airlines – American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways – all charge passengers to check a second bag; $25 on every aforementioned carrier excluding Delta, and United, which now charge $50. Several smaller carriers – Alaska Air, Air Tran, and JetBlue among them – have enacted similar policies.
Travelocity’s FAQ page is constantly updated with the details of each policy.
Keep in mind 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, excludes any elite members of frequent flier programs, and does not apply to anyone flying in business or first class. Trouble is, it’s not these frequent fliers that generally check lots of bags anyway – it’s the infrequent flier – also the traveler least likely to be aware of these new fees.
And don’t even think about trying to stuff everything into one bag to get around the rule. Several carriers have increased their overweight / oversized baggage surcharges, and we’ve seen in recent years the airlines have become very stringent on enforcing these rules.
Other new fees to be aware of: -
– Delta Airlines raised fees for booking over the phone, bringing along your pet, and unaccompanied minors on direct flights
– United Airlines recently upped the change fee from $100 to $150 and reinstated the Saturday-night-stay requirement on some routes
– JetBlue has begun charging for seats with the most legroom
My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.
How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.
Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.
Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.
First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.
First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.
Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.
My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.