Bag fees weigh on airline customers
CHICAGO - US airlines are slowly ratcheting up their bag-check fees, like US Airways Group did yesterday, but analysts warn that carriers risk alienating their customers with excessive fees.
US Airways said that on domestic flights it would charge $20 to check a single bag and $30 to check a second bag. The carrier said it also would charge $50 to check a second bag on its trans-Atlantic flights.
The fees are consistent with those implemented by rival airlines like American Airlines, which last week added a fee for a second bag checked on some international routes. Airlines view the new fees as fair and necessary to bolster revenue as the industry grapples with weak demand and volatile fuel prices.
Last year, several top carriers took the controversial step of charging fees even for a single bag check on a domestic flight. Customers balked, but they paid.
The new fees are common in the US airline industry. Delta Air Lines charges $15 for a single checked bag on travel within the United States and $50 for a second checked bag on travel in the economy class between the United States and Europe.
“So far, it appears that consumers have pretty much embraced these fees,’’ said Kevin Mitchell, head of the Business Travel Coalition.
But Southwest Airlines has made its relatively inexpensive bag-check policy a centerpiece in its advertising lately. Southwest will check the first two bags weighing under 50 pounds free. The third checked bag is $50.