Cost of Checking Your Baggage on Most Major Airlines Has Just Gone Up

September 21, 2018Sep 21, 2018

Planning to fly soon? Or anytime in the future? The cost of checking your baggage has just gone up for most major airlines.

And that’s not the only change.

According to the Washington Examiner, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways are all hiking their checked baggage fees by $5 from $25 to $30. That really adds up for a family, especially when they’re also paying that fee on their return trip.

Why the price hike? The Airlines for America lobbyist group says it’s how the big carriers are recuperating costs from a 31% increase in fuel prices during the first half of this year.

While that change finished going into effect on Friday, another one could be on the horizon. Some U.S. lawmakers want to put a federal limit on how much an airline can charge you for changing your flight.

According to the Toronto Star, airlines make almost $3 billion a year from the fees they charge passengers for ticket changes.

“It is our top priority to ensure that this — what we consider an existential threat to our business — does not become law,” said Sharon Pinkerton of Airlines for America.

Changing a ticket typically costs $200, according to local NBC affiliate WTHR. But American Airlines is threatening to do away with ticket changes entirely — something passengers rely on for unexpected life events.

"We — like the baseball team, like the opera — would say, 'We're sorry, it was nonrefundable,'" American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said.

One smaller airline, though, is taking the opposite approach to better serves its customers.

According to USA Today, Frontier Airlines is reducing its already lower-than-average ticket change fee of $99 to $49 if you make the request earlier than 13 days before your trip. On top of that, if you want to make changes more than three months ahead of time, the Colorado-based carrier will waive the entire fee.

Sometimes when large airlines keep squeezing customers, it gives smaller carriers an opportunity to do something to boost customer satisfaction and make themselves more competitive. It could also be a boost for an airline like Frontier that doesn’t get high customer satisfaction ratings on Skytrax.

"We (already) have a more customer-friendly change policy than the vast majority of our competitors,'' said Frontier Senior Vice President Daniel Shurz, adding that the reduced fees "should make us more attractive as an airline to fly, simply because we're offering a better value product. It's giving customers peace of mind that they can book early.”

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