We have been quite surprised by the inflated prices of international airline tickets in 2011. And with higher fuel costs, the prices will continue to rise. In the past four months, oil has risen over 25% and airlines have raised fares as many as eight times.
Unfortunately, the airlines have also been quietly raising their baggage fees. As travelers become more savvy, many carriers respond with costly alternatives. One example: charging passengers for priority boarding, guaranteeing space in the overhead bins for carry-on bags. Other airlines are drastically increasing their fees on overweight bags. United now charges $400 for any bag weighing between 71 and 90 pounds. I was shocked to learn that U.S. airlines made $2.57 billion in baggage fees in the first nine months of 2010.
However, there is still hope. Many international-based airlines still allow passengers two checked bags (up to fifty pounds each) for no charge on most routes. And as we have seen, this is a strong deciding factor when travelers are selecting an airline. As a mom to a toddler, I also research which airlines allow me to check a stroller and car seat for no charge. Some experts are also predicting that airlines will start to charge for infants on domestic flights, as they do on international segments.
If you are concerned about baggage fees, please ask your agent or airline representative at the time of booking. I also recommend getting the policy in writing from the airline directly, or printing it from the website on the date your ticket is purchased.