Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AirTran joins the crowd with a new checked-bag fee

AirTran today became the latest airline to impose a $15 fee on passengers for checking one piece of luggage. The new fee accompanies fees already in place for a second bag ($25) and any additional bags ($50 each). Business-class and A+ Elite passengers are exempt from all such fees.

AirTran's announcement brings the Atlanta-based low-cost carrier into line with a trend that has swept across the industry in recent months as airlines look for ways to bolster revenue in tough economic times. In particular, AirTran's decision comes shortly after rival Delta--also Atlanta-based and poised to become the world's largest airline when it merges with Northwest in early 2009--announced that it would add the first-bag fee.

Sure, it's disappointing, because we know that--like the elimination of meals in 2004--these fees are here to stay. But as Continental CEO Larry Kellner observed in a recent interview, it makes sense for airlines to oppose fees only when their actions get them additional passengers. As long as passengers tolerate fees and continue to fly with airlines that impose them, other airlines will follow suit and add fees.

In other words, we bring this on ourselves.

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