Homeland Security Asks Airlines to Eliminate Baggage Fees

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel was pretty difficult for some this past summer, as the TSA struggled to clear long lines at the security checkpoints. Travelers faced waits as long as three hours, causing them to miss their flights. The ordeal was eventually sorted, and people were able to get to their destinations as usual.

But this problem could be avoided, said the TSA and a few Washington lawmakers, if the airlines would just get rid of their checked baggage fees.
The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport
Jeh Johnson, the head of Homeland Security, and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger asked the nation’s airlines to consider waiving or eliminating baggage fees in order to encourage more people to check bags and alleviate the security process clogged by travelers who only have carry-ons.

Not surprisingly, the airlines said no. They’ve had these fees in place since 2007, and it’s how they have been able to remain profitable. How can you do your part to keep the security line moving? Here are some simple, practical reminders to consider:

  • Apply for TSA PreCheck. Even if you only travel once a year, at $85 for five years’ certification, you’ll eliminate most of the hassle that comes with the regular TSA lines: you won’t have to take off your shoes or jacket, unpack your toiletries, or remove your laptop.
  • Make sure your toiletries are the standard 3.4 ounces and that the bag you carry them in is transparent and accessible, like a kitchen reclosable bag.
  • Wear slip-on shoes so you don’t hold up the line untying shoes or unzipping boots. If you can’t do this, loosen the laces or unzip the zipper so that you can ease your feet out quickly. Read more

How Not to Get Nickel-and-Dimed When Flying Low-Cost Airlines

December 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The sad truth about the budget airlines is that they tend to charge extra for everything. You can get a cheap ticket, sure. But you’ll also have to pay extra for just about everything else. In some cases, you don’t get charged for luggage that fits under the seat in front of you, but you have to pay for luggage that goes into the overhead bins.

Of course, luggage charges are now part of just about every airline’s revenue stream. But a recent article in The New York Post indicates that the three lowest-cost airlines (Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant) have turned luggage upcharging into an art.

The terminal ceiling is suspended in a catenar...

Airport luggage check-in area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When traveling on one of these low-cost airlines, make absolutely sure you don’t have to check a bag at the gate. Doing so can cost you big. For example, Spirit airlines charges under $30 for luggage that’s checked or carried on, but luggage that is checked at the gate comes with a whopping $100 price tag.

Allegiant has a lower starting point for overweight fees since their overages start at 41 pounds, whereas most other airlines start at 51 pounds. Pack light and weigh your luggage before you leave the house, if avoiding these fees is important to you. Carry a luggage scale with you to avoid return trip overages.

Allegiant also may be the only airline that charges a $10 fee to book online. You can avoid the fee by buying a “walk in” ticket at the airport, which seems risky if you’re planning a vacation. You may not get the flight you want, and the TSA will give you a closer look for those “spur of the moment” ticket purchases.

You also need to watch out for fees that are now becoming common in the airline industry at large. Printing out your boarding pass at the airport can be upcharged as can choosing which seat you want to sit in rather than just taking what the airline offers.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to be careful and do some research before buying a ticket. If it’s important to you to choose your seat and bring three large bags with you, you may end up paying the same price or more than you would for booking with a more traditional airline. Do your research beforehand, and compare prices before you book your ticket.

How do you avoid airline fees? Any useful tricks you’ve learned over the years? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Airlines Teach the Rest of the World to Pay for Baggage

August 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Not too long ago, the airline industry was struggling to keep its head above water. In the last decade alone, over a dozen airlines have filed bankruptcy, while others (such as American Airlines) opted to take drastic cost-cutting measures. Within the last five years, however, the majority of US-based airlines have found one simple way to increase their profit margin – and the numbers will shock you.

If you’ve flown anywhere within the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid getting hit with additional fees. This phenomenon began in 2008, when American Airlines found themselves struggling with rising oil prices. Their solution: instead of raising ticket prices, they decided to start charging an additional fee for checked baggage. Within months, other domestic airlines followed suit and today, checked baggage fees have become the norm. Today, most US-based airlines charge about $25 per checked bag (or $50 round trip).

English: PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Feb. 19, 2010)...

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Feb. 19, 2010) Workers at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti unload luggage from an American Airlines flight. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Spike Call/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year alone, the global airline industry is expected to clear a profit of $1.27 billion. If you think that sounds pretty high, you’re right — in fact, that’s a 67% increase from 2012.

Interestingly, this number has little to do with an increase in ticket sales; instead, it has a lot to do with fees. In fact, additional fees (such as baggage fees and penalties for changing flight times) account for $36 billion last year alone, and according to the International Air Transport Association, that number is expected to “grow significantly” this year.

But does that increase in global revenue really impact individual airlines? Yes, and you may be surprised as to what degree. Take US Airways for example. In 2007, they raked in $27.7 million in baggage fees alone. In 2012, they raked in $516.2 million, resulting in a whopping 1761% increase. Frontier Airlines has had similarly impressive results. They saw a 1419.6% increase in revenue from baggage fees between 2007 and 2012. Out of all major US-based airlines, Delta Air Lines raked in the most revenue from baggage fees — a cool $865.9 million in 2012 alone.

Airlines around the world have begun to take note of these numbers and are beginning to charge additional fees as well. Between 2011 and 2012, UK-based airlines raised their baggage fees by as much as 67%, which, as the (London) Daily Telegraph points out, is 24 times the rate of inflation. In addition, many UK-based airlines have begun to increase other fees – for example, several airlines opted to raise the fee for traveling with an infant.

No matter where you live, one thing’s for certain: “budget flights” may certainly become a thing of the past, so you need to get used to paying fees, or finding ways around them.

United Airlines Launches Subscription Plan for Baggage, Legroom

August 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a frequent traveler who racks up baggage fees faster than you rack up airline miles, you may be pleased to discover that United Airlines has recently launched a new program to help their most frequent fliers save money. The airline has rolled out two new individual subscription options that offer their customers access to Economy Plus seating or pre-paid baggage fees.

“The Economy Plus and checked baggage subscriptions offer our customers more of the comfort and convenience they value year round,” said Scott Wilson, United’s vice president of merchandising and e-commerce. “We are pleased that, as we launch these services, we are able to provide new options for customers to tailor their travel experiences.”

English: United Airlines Boeing 777 (N223UA) t...

English: United Airlines Boeing 777 (N223UA) taking off from Los Angeles on Christmas 2010, wearing the post-merger livery combining the United name with the Continental logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

United’s new baggage subscription plan (which will presumably be one of the more popular options) works as follows. The basic plan (which covers flights within the continental US) starts at $349 per year and allows one traveler to check one bag per flight. From there, the package can be upgraded based on the traveler’s needs.

For example, travelers can pay an extra $30 per year to check two bags per flight, as opposed to one, and additional travelers can be added onto the plan at $100 per person, per year. The plan can also be upgraded to cover all of North and South America at an additional $100 per year, or global travel at an additional $450 per subscription.

Travelers who frequently pay extra for the Economy Plus option (which offers seats that have more leg room and are located at the front of the cabin) may want to spring for United’s new Economy Plus subscription plan. Starting at $499 per year, this plan allows fliers to upgrade to Economy Plus for no additional fee.

The real question is – are these plans worth it? That depends. United Airlines’ standard baggage fee is $25 per bag, per trip. This means that those who subscribe to United’s basic $349 per year baggage plan would have to make seven or more round-trip flights within the year to come out ahead. In other words, casual travelers may want to stick to paying their fees on a per-flight basis. But for those who find themselves up in the air quite often — say, once a month or more — this plan may result in major savings.

Unusual Ways to Avoid Baggage Fees

April 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

These days, people are willing to do just about anything to save a few bucks.

And, the New York Times notes, the more inventive airlines are with the fees they subject their customers to, the more travelers are willing to become wilier to avoid them.

The Times story says that most people are content just to try shoving as much as possible into coat pockets, personal items and carry-on baggage — but that can result in the dreaded Battle of the Overhead Bin. So others have gotten even more creative. The article talks about fliers who are willing to drive up to 100 miles farther just to reach an airport serviced by an airline offering free checked bags.

Baggage Hall at Gibraltar Airport

Baggage Hall at Gibraltar Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One woman, who was moving her daughter to college for the first time, realized that paying to haul the bags cross-country would cost more than another plane ticket — those charges can really add up. So she did her research and found that Southwest, though the closest airport was 25 miles farther than she’d planned to drive, was a more realistic option because all six of her daughter’s bags could fly for free between her, her husband and her daughter.

Another option: going plastic. (Opening an airline-branded credit card, that is.) Many of these cards offer the first checked bag free for cardholders, in addition to other money-saving perks.

You can also ship your bags ahead. While it may seem like an expensive option, the cost of shipping something via UPS or Fedex can sometimes be less than the cost of the baggage fees. Plus you don’t have the hassle of wrestling your bags in and out of cars, and off the luggage carousel. They’re waiting for you when you arrive.

And for those who want to maintain the flexibility of flying whatever airline they’d like, there are solutions like vacuum sealers that suck the air out of special bags and make it possible to stuff far more into a bag than pre-sealing. You’ll have to find a way to do it on the return trip as well.

There are plenty of legislators and travelers’ rights groups hard at work trying to reduce the prevalence of baggage fees, but until then, there are plenty of ways to game the system and save yourself from getting nickel-and-dimed.

Understanding The Baggage Fees Airlines Charge

June 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Airlines aren’t very shy about charging fees, are they?

Checked baggage fees, additional baggage fees, overweight baggage fees, oversize baggage fees. While we understand the airlines need to be profitable, we wish there was a better way. In the meantime, travelers are tired of the baggage fees, and are looking for ways to avoid them.

So let’s save you some money and aggravation, and review the baggage fees most airlines charge:

Checked Bags

Nearly all airlines now assess a fee for checking luggage (Southwest Airlines is a notable exception). These fees vary by airline, and are typically $20 – $30 for the first bag checked. Higher fees are charged for additional bags, often twice the amount of the initial bag.

Overweight Bags

If your bag weighs more than 50 pounds, you’re subject to an overweight fee which is based on how many pounds the bag is over. This can be very expensive for infrequent travelers still using old luggage built with heavy materials and not designed to accommodate many belongings. A number of bags are needed for a lengthy trip, which results in both additional bag and overweight fees.

Oversize Bags

Many airlines also assess oversize fees for luggage that have a combined length, width and girth exceeding 45″. Older bags were made when there were no baggage fees and no size limits to luggage, so you could take whatever you wanted. But now, space and fuel consumption are a consideration, so bags need to be smaller and lighter.

Most of these problems can be avoided with Travelpro luggage. The lightweight, space-efficient construction enables you to pack everything you need in fewer bags without exceeding weight or size restrictions. Plus, they’re easy to roll through the airport, and stand up to baggage handlers and poorly maintained conveyer belts.

Carry-On Bags

More and more travelers are trying to avoid checked bag fees by carrying their luggage on the airplane. But, restrictions do exist here too. Luckily, we’ve got solutions for that.

Most airlines limit passengers to two carry-on bags — one small suitcase, and one personal bag — neither of which can exceed 22”x14”x 9” or 20”x16”x9” (20”x14”x9” on most international flights) and must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. To maximize this opportunity, many women place their purse in a properly sized tote and carry on another bag.

Again, the superiority of Travelpro’s products enables travelers to carry on all the belongings they need for a trip, avoiding excessive fees. The less the bag weighs, and the better it’s designed, the more it will hold without violating airline restrictions.

Would you rather spend your money on baggage fees, or at your destination? It may be time to invest in Travelpro luggage.

How Can Luggage Reduce Travel Costs?

June 1, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Will air travel costs continue to rise? These days, most airlines charge fees for checked and overweight baggage!

Unless you’re using luggage specifically designed to avoid those fees. . .

Travelpro has served the needs of experienced travelers for over two decades, and has developed a number of lightweight products that reduce not only baggage costs, but user fatigue and airport hassles as well.

Constructed of state-of-the-art materials, Travelpro’s bags, totes and duffels weigh far less than most of our competitors’ luggage. This enables you to pack more belongings without exceeding the airlines’ weight limits (most airlines charge “overweight fees” for checked bags weighing over 50 pounds). When you consider that some luggage can weigh over 13 pounds, that can severely limit how much stuff you can pack.

Our lightweight, rollable luggage is not only much easier to transport through airports, it is easier to carry on the airplane itself. Generally speaking, in the United States, travelers are allowed to carry on bags measuring no more than 22”x14”x 9” or 20”x16”x9” (20”x14”x9” on most international flights).

Travelpro offers many types and styles of luggage that meet these size restrictions, which eliminate the cost of checking your bags at departure, and the headache of retrieving them upon arrival.

Lightweight luggage is all fine and good, you’re probably saying, but I need a bag that will last. What good is avoiding a few check-on fees if I have to buy new luggage every year?

We’re glad you asked.

Throughout the development process, Travelpro’s design team focuses on product durability as well as weight reduction. We recognize that any manufacturer can offer a bag that doesn’t weigh much. The challenge is to provide a lightweight bag that stands up to energetic baggage handlers and crowded conveyer systems worldwide.

We like to think we’ve succeeded. Our design team also focuses on the products’ ease-of-use and functionality. Many bags are expandable to hold extra contents, while others are multi-use and can accommodate suits, garments and computers. This eliminates the need for additional bags and the fees that come with them.

You can reduce travel costs. All it takes a little planning and the right kind of luggage.