Monday, May 18, 2009

$1 Billion for Excess Baggage

Remember last summer, when United Airlines introduced fees for checked baggage? Remember how every other airline except Southwest soon followed suit, saying that the money was needed to offset brutal losses from fuel costs?

I told you at the time that these fees would not go away. No fee ever goes away, no cut service ever comes back, once it's adopted by the bulk of the industry. The only cases of rollbacks in recent memory--restoration of 500-mile minimums for elite flyers, or U.S. Airways dumping its charge for onboard beverages--came because they weren't copied.

Today, we found out that all of those fees generate upwards of $1 billion for the airline industry. And have you noticed that oil is below $60 per barrel? That jet fuel has dropped by more than 50%?

The only question is, will Southwest join the rest of the pack and slap them on passengers? Or will they become the "Continental of baggage," holding the line on baggage the way that CAL does on meals?

Time will tell. Either way, it's pretty clear: baggage fees are here to stay.

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