Ah, air travel. We love you so, but I’ve got a bone to pick with the airlines. It feels a little like they’re not so focused on the customer at times. After all, the seats are shrinking and the peanuts have become an endangered species. To add insult to injury, lately baggage fees are creeping up. Alaska Airlines just raised their checked bag fees this month, but it’s a trend that’s on the rise. Sometimes it can seem like the airlines are playing a relentless game of “how much can we squeeze out of our passengers without causing a full-blown revolt?” And boy, are they masters of the game. So, what do you think? How much is too much? How much are you willing to pay to check your bag?

Baggage Fees 101

Let’s dive into the delightful world of baggage fees. Are they “junk fees,” or a necessary evil? Airlines tell us that baggage fees help offset the costs of operation, allowing them to keep base ticket prices lower. However, it’s hard not to roll your eyes when you realize that the same airlines reporting record profits are the ones nickel-and-diming us for every ounce of shampoo we bring on board. Are they really struggling that much, or are they just pulling down extra cash at the traveler’s expense?

It is true that operational costs when you’re running an airline are high. It’s also true that this now-commonplace “fee-based” pricing structure can be lucrative for the airlines. As airlines continuously hike up baggage fees, it raises the question: Is there a point when enough is enough to pay to check your bag? How much are we, as passengers, willing to pay before we collectively stand up and shout, “No more!”? 

Sure, we get it. Airlines need to make money. But there’s a fine line between a reasonable fee and highway robbery. Sometimes it feels like they’re daring us to consider wearing every piece of clothing we own just to avoid those exorbitant fees. It’s crossed my mind more than once to just load myself up like an overstuffed penguin to just avoid the extra cost. 

Can you avoid baggage fees?

The thing is, it’s not just the cost that’s infuriating – it’s the inconsistency. Different airlines have different rules, and it’s like playing a game of chance every time you approach the check-in counter. Will you get a sympathetic nod and a waived fee, or will you be met with a stern-faced agent who charges you the equivalent of a month’s rent for that overweight suitcase?

And let’s not even get started on the added insult of paying extra for priority boarding just so you can ensure your carry-on finds a spot in the limited space onboard. It’s as if airlines are saying, “Hey, if you want a comfortable flight experience, you better pony up the cash.” The friendly skies have become a playground for the highest bidder.

But here’s the thing – airlines know we might grumble and groan, but most of us will pay up anyway. We’ve been conditioned to accept these fees as a necessary evil of air travel. After all, flying is the fastest way to get us from point A to point B and we don’t have many other options.

How CheapAir helps you avoid paying too much for baggage

At CheapAir, we try to help our customers out by having as much transparency as possible in our flight search. When you start a search, you see each flight’s cost breakdown, and you can even compare different flights on different airlines at the same time. This way, you can see if a Premium Economy fare might actually be a better value than a Basic fare on another airline that will zap you with a bunch of additional fees that could add up to more than the cost of the Premium ticket. Why should you pay to check your bag if you don’t have to do so?

Compare airline baggage fees and airfares on CheapAir.com

So, knowing what you know about baggage fees, is there a point where the cost of checking a bag might become too much? Are we hurtling towards a future where the price of bringing a suitcase on a plane exceeds the actual ticket cost? It’s a nutty thought, but with baggage fees on the rise, it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

In the end, it’s up to travelers to decide if we’re willing to continue forking over our hard-earned cash for the privilege of bringing along a change of clothes. Maybe it’s time for a revolution in the skies where passengers reclaim their right to reasonably priced baggage. Until then remember: The sky’s the limit, but apparently, not for bag fees.

2 Comments

  1. I’m trying to fly to Hawaii.I have 115,000 pts on Jet Blue,which doesn’t fly to Honolulu.However,they’re partner(Hawaiin Air,does).I’ve tried for 2 weeks to work out the flights to make it happen,with no luck.Jetblue couldn’t do it for me,so I tried myself.There are no good options using pts.The cheap flights from mco leave at 6am.We’d have to get up and leave house by 3am!Flights leaving later are much more expensive and have connecting flights which make flying times 10-12 hrs instead of 6.Also, Almost all flights from HNL leave during the day,same as Jet Blue,same coming back to LAX.Can you help?

    • Hi Mark,

      We’d be happy to try to help you. Did you have specific travel dates already in mind? Or are you flexible with your travel dates? If so, how many days are you looking to go for? Since you’re looking at flights from Orlando to Honolulu, flights will connect through some other city. There are no non-stop flight options. If you are strictly looking for the cheapest flights, those do tend to be longer flight times and at undesirable hours in the day as you noted departing Orlando at 6am. The more flexible you can be, the better options you’ll have at getting the cheapest flights though. Usually the more restricted you are with the travel dates and flight times, the less options you have and costs tend to be higher. Traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday will be cheaper than traveling on a Friday or Sunday, so that could be an option if you are able to do that. You could also consider traveling (using your points on Jetblue) to Los Angeles or San Francisco and spending a night to break up your trip and therefore have better flight options. That would mean having to book a hotel for a night or two, which could wipe out any potential savings you’re seeking on flights. Another option could be to break up your trip and search using a “Multi-City” flight search, which we feature on CheapAir.com. By breaking it up into a “multi-city” search, you’d essentially be booking separate one-way flights, which you could fly non-stop. You would have to still over night in a city along the way to break it up and getting a hotel, but that might be a way to get the best flights and keep costs low enough. The concern with booking multi-city flights is that because they are often separate flights and on different airlines, should you have to change your trip it could get costly because you’d have to make multiple changes for each flight. Plus each airline has different baggage fee costs and your bags would not automatically transfer, which if you’re flying from Orlando to Los Angeles and spend a night, you’d want your bags anyway.

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