Baggage Fees Are Big Business – Which Airline is Charging What in 2012

Fremont, California (EastBayDaily) — Bags fly free on Southwest, one bag flies free on JetBlue, but travelers checking baggage with the top 10 other major domestic airlines will pay anywhere from $20 to $38 extra –- and that’s just for the first checked bag. “Baggage Fees – Big Business,” a newly published graphic chart compiled by discount travel experts Lets Fly Cheaper, shows at-a-glance the additional fees charged by a dozen airlines for the first checked bag, second checked bag, and overweight bags.

The colorful infographic at shows baggage fees for domestic economy class travel only (continental U.S. plus in some cases Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada). The 12 airlines compared.

“For many economy class travelers, checking baggage is a necessity. But with the extra fees most airlines charge today, it can quickly become a luxury. We want customers to be able to quickly and easily see what different airlines charge so they can make informed, economically sound decisions. Our goal is to help travelers calculate potential baggage fees into their overall air travel cost up front –- before they commit to an airline based solely on airfare price,” said Ramon Van Meer, Lets Fly Cheaper marketing director.

While baggage fee information is available by airline, it typically does not pop up on the screen until the reservation process is nearly complete. Lets Fly Cheaper’s goal is to make it quick and easy for passengers to compare total domestic airfares apples-to-apples, including the fee to check one or more bags. LFC’s visual airline-to-airline comparison chart shows a wide variation in baggage fees charged.

Some key findings:     Southwest and JetBlue do not charge for the first checked bag     Southwest is the only airline offering a second free checked bag     Typical fee for first checked bag is $20-25     Spirit charges the most for the first checked bag ($38), but the least for an overweight bag ($25)     Allegiant charges the most for the second checked bag ($55) and the most for two checked bags ($90), followed by Spirit with $45 for the second bag and $80 total for two bags     United and American charge the most for an overweight bag ($100)

There is even some variation in what is considered an “overweight” bag, with most airlines defining “overweight” as 51-70 lbs. but Southwest and Alaska both defining it as 51-100 lbs. Spirit Airlines charges a surcharge for bags weighing 41-50 lbs., which is below the 51 lb. weight threshold on other airlines.

“For passengers, flying cheaper today means factoring in not only the price of the airfare, but all the extra fees airlines now charge for things that used to be included in the airfare,” explained van Meer. “Airlines are looking to recoup their costs any way they can. They will charge what the market will bear; buyer beware. Unfortunately, baggage fees are (with only a couple of notable exceptions), a fact of air travel life. And they can really add to overall travel costs, quickly eating up any fare discount.”

Concluded van Meer “The obvious way to avoid baggage fees is to go with carry-on bags only. But for long-distance travel, vacation travel, travel with families, etc. many economy class passengers may not, for whatever reason, be able to travel light. It pays to do your homework and know in advance that the special fare advertised by Airline A is actually $60-90 more when you factor in the charge for checking your family’s luggage. You may decide Airline B, with the first bag free, is actually the better economic choice.”

About Lets Fly Cheaper Lets Fly Cheaper is a low fare business class specialist, focused on supplying the best available business class and first class flights. To book the lowest fare contact one of our professional travel agents at 800.240.4366 or go to or


Ramon van Meer
Lets Fly Cheaper

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