Airlines increase baggage fees, prompting debate

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Major airlines like United Airlines, American Airlines, and JetBlue Airways have once again raised their baggage fees, with the cost now dependent on when passengers pay for the service.

This move, aimed at encouraging travelers to pay for checked bags in advance, has stirred debate.

Customers booking online in advance will face lower fees compared to those checking bags at the airport or near their departure time.

This approach, according to airlines, will streamline check-in procedures and expedite boarding.

American Airlines recently increased its checked bag fees, introducing a two-tiered pricing system similar to that of other carriers.

Passengers booking online will pay $35 for a first checked bag on domestic flights, compared to $40 for those purchasing the service at the airport.

Exceptions exist for certain travelers, such as those with specific airline credit cards or elite frequent flyer status, who may be eligible for free checked bags on domestic or short international flights.

The rationale behind lower fees for online booking is to allocate more time to assist passengers requiring additional support during their journey, stated an American Airlines spokesperson.

Additionally, airlines are adjusting fees for slightly overweight bags, aiming to alleviate last-minute inconveniences for travelers.

While ultra-low-cost airlines have long employed tiered fee structures, major carriers are now following suit.

This strategy, according to Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle, incentivizes passengers to streamline transactions and eases operations.

Despite passenger preferences for carry-on bags to avoid fees, Southwest Airlines remains an outlier, allowing two free checked bags per customer.

Southwest’s Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson emphasized the operational benefits of checked baggage, stressing the importance of efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The increase in baggage fees, attributed to rising operational costs, has become a significant revenue stream for airlines.

However, Southwest Airlines maintains its commitment to customer-centric policies, prioritizing efficiency and customer loyalty in its operational strategies.