Charging for the First Checked Bag

American Airlines will start charging $15 for the first checked bag…

Come on! That is a lot ridiculous. You might as well just increase fares by $15 across the board. The only real difference is the marketing angle. People are used to fare increases, they don’t like them, but they expect them. Increases in extraneous fees that you must pay just make people feel like you are ripping them off. The marketing can’t possibly favor the fee, now that it is no longer, hidden having been reported in the press.

I, personally, like to travel light and make a quick getaway from the airport. Until the asinine no liquids TSA rule was made I never checked a bag (when possible). The current, exceedingly annoying liquids rule results in the same behavior. The alternative, of course, is to purchase shampoo and such at your destination. This takes time, but probably only costs on the order of $5. By charging for a checked first bag American makes this option more desirable, probably more desirable than checking the bag. Although, it may be easier to for business travelers to get reimbursed for the fee than for the cheaper incidentals.

Of course, encouraging people not to check a bag does nothing to decrease the weight of the plane (saving fuel), it just makes them carry it on. With the planes packed as full as they are these days, there is already not enough space for everyone to carry on their two bags. This will only make things worse in that area, and further increase the importance of getting seated early in the boarding order. When the space on the plane is exhausted there will be an interesting choice — do you charge for baggage that must be checked at the gate due to over crowding? That is a damned if you do, loophole if you don’t situation.

The only saving grace of all this is that, for now,

Rival Delta has no current plans to match American’s fee for the first checked bag…

But we all know how this oligopoly works, everyone follows suit rather quickly. Of course, given the bone headedness of this idea compared to the easier to implement fare hike, maybe they wont all be lemmings. Come on, the cost to implement charing for a first checked bag has got to cost more than $15 per bag.

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