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Airline Baggage Fees on the Rise

Published:Monday | May 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

IF YOU are planning to travel this summer, the best advice is to travel light. This is against the background of a steady increase in baggage fees for a number of airlines.

The price tag for a first and second bag for most airlines lies somewhere between US$25 and US$35. Among the exceptions in this area are JetBlue and British Airways, which do not charge for a first bag, but charge US$50 and US$51, respectively, for a second bag. American Airlines charges US$40 for a second bag.

The jump in prices for most airlines becomes more noticeable in the category of additional and overweight bags. Bags that weigh between 23kg and 45kg are considered to be overweight. Most airlines will not transport bags weighing more than 45kg.

In response to queries from The Gleaner, newly appointed corporate communications head at Caribbean Airlines Dionne Ligoure noted that "for travel between London and the Caribbean, the first and second checked bags for economy are free".

In fact, Caribbean Airlines new baggage policy effective April 15, 2015 allows all passengers travelling a free first checked bag.

Ligoure went on to indicate that for all destinations, the third checked bag for non-flexible and semi-flexible economy fares is US$100, plus taxes, except for London, where the cost for the third checked bag is £50, plus taxes.

"For all destinations, the fourth checked bag for both economy and business class is US$175, plus taxes, except London, where the cost for both economy and business class for the fourth checked bag is £100, plus taxes," she added.

According to Ligourne, the revised baggage fees took effect on April 14.

She also disclosed that before the new fees were introduced last month, excess baggage up to 50 pounds cost US$50, plus tax for travel within the Caribbean. For travel to the US, the UK, and Canada, the charge for anything over the checked baggage allowance stood at US$150, plus tax.

American Airlines allows up to five additional bags, charging US$100 for a third bag, and US$200 each for the fourth and fifth. Overweight bags on American Airlines attract fees of US$100 and US$200 each, depending on the weight.

If you are travelling on Delta, you will have to fork out US$125 for the third bag you add and US$200 for each bag added after that one. Overweight bags are billed at US$75 each.

Air Canada passengers must be prepared to pay US$225, plus tax, for each additional bag after the second bag. Overweight and oversized bags on that airline attract a US$100 fee to which tax is also added.

On British Airways, the first extra bag is US$100 and each additional extra bag is US$200. The charge for overweight bags on British Airways stands at US$100 per bag.

According to a study conducted by the Hass School of Business of the University of California, Berkeley, airlines have sought to shore up revenues through ancillary fees such as baggage fees. The report went on to indicate that baggage fees has been one of the strongest sources of additional income in the face of declining travel and rising operational costs due to the global recession.

American Airlines saw an increase in its baggage fee revenue for 2014, raking in US$574,430 up from US$505,697 in 2013. Delta earned the most from baggage fees, raking in US$862, 909 in 2014 up from $833,183 in 2013.

Revenue figures for Caribbean Airlines were not approved for disclosure to The Gleaner.