The airline bagmen are at it again with hefty luggage fee rises of up to 100 percent and new rules popping up on some airlines in North America and Europe.
JetBlue, WestJet and Air Canada have all raised baggage fees while Ryanair has reversed its stance on carrying wheelie bags for free.
Effective August 27, JetBlue raised the charge for the first bag by 20 percent from $US25 to $US30. The cost of taking a second bag also rose by $US5 to $US40 while for those taking a third the cost soared from $US100 to a whopping $US150.
The cost of overweight or oversized bags also jumped by 50 percent while fees for sports equipment such a bicycle rose 100 percent.
The increases make JetBlue luggage fees more expensive than Legacy carriers American, Delta and United — at least for now.
Westjet and Air Canada also raised the fees for first bag from $C25 to $C30. People who bring a second bag will particularly feel the pain with prices rising from $C35 to $C50.
Canadians get a little more grace with the new fees applying October 5 on flights across Canada and as well as to and from the US, the Caribbean and Mexico.
The North American airlines airlines say the rises are to help offset higher costs but over in Europe, Ryanair says it has backflipped on a policy to allow wheelie bags to be carried in the hold for free because it wants to avoid flight delays.
From November 1, it will charge customers who have not paid the priority surcharge €/£8 to check in a 10kg wheelie bag to reduce the volume of free second gate bags.
Priority boarding customers will still be able to bring their wheelie bag and another small bag into the cabin.
The airline had already changed the policy in January to stop “non priority” customers from boarding with wheelie bags as cabin baggage. Instead, it took the bigger cabin bags at the gate and carried them for free in the hold.
Under the new policy, non-priority customers will have to check-in their wheelie bags and fork out the €/£8 fee at the time of booking for the privilege.
“This new policy will speed up the boarding and cut flight delays,’’ said Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs, who added 60 per cent of customers “will be unaffected by these changes” because they buy priority tickets or don’t have cabin baggage.
“We expect that the other 40 percent will either choose to buy priority boarding or a 10kg check bag or will choose to travel with only one (free) small bag as 30 percent already do so today.”
The bag fees are among a widening range of charges, fees and commissions — known in the game as ancillary revenues — that airlines are levying customers under the banner of “choice”.
The IdeaWorks Company estimated ancillary revenues grew more than 20 percent in 2017 to reach US82.2 billion.
This included $US57 billion from “a la carte” passenger charges beyond the cost of a ticket such as extra legroom, food, drink and luggage.