Baggage Fees

The Low Down for Carry on Bags

Airlines are cracking down on carry on bags.

This may sound inconvenient, but it could actually be good news if you can travel light. Fewer travelers with overstuffed bags translates into faster, easier boarding.

Packing Carry on luggage

Carry on Bag Dimensions

Although enforcement varies, the current restriction for carryon bag dimensions is 22x14x9 for American, Delta, United and US Airways. AirTran, JetBlue and Southwest are slightly more generous with dimensions set at 24x16x10. Of course, you can also bring a purse, laptop or small personal item, but it must fit under the seat in front of you. Check the policies from the major airlines.

While most major U.S. airlines don’t charge a fee for one carry-on, budget carriers may. Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines charge anywhere from $25 to $100 per carry-on bag.

You may be surprised to find that your relatively small, wheeled luggage is now too big for the overhead bin. In fact, if it doesn’t fit in the size-wise metal frame at the gate, you may have to go back to check-in, where you’ll likely encounter a fee to check your luggage.

Nearly all the airlines (except Southwest) are charging fees for checked luggage, starting around $15 and running up to $30 apiece for the first bag or two. After that, fees skyrocket: extra, overweight or over sized luggage can cost up to $200 per bag.

Dimension restrictions vary on foreign carriers, so make sure you check out their policies before leaving for an international trip. In addition, while most U.S. airlines don’t have carry-on baggage weight limits, some foreign carriers do (and the weight fees can be hefty, up to and over $150 per overweight bag).

Packing Tips

  • Balance the need for wheels – Wheels and a frame can lighten your load, but they also take up quite a bit of space. To make the most of your carry-on space, consider a soft tote that can expand but still manages to meet size requirements.
  • Use and lose – Disposable items, like shavers and old clothes, are a great way to lighten the load on your return, especially if you have to bring back paperwork or business tchotchkes.
  • Go monotone – Pack one color theme (black or brown) to cut down on the need for more shoes and other accessories.
  • Downsize – Travel-sized toiletries can save a lot of space… and don’t forget that most business hotels have good health and beauty products.

Rethink what you need to bring; Be more discriminating when packing. Make decisions before you put everything in your luggage, as we tend to want to throw in a few extras after a bag is packed. And remember, you can always buy as you go.

Airlines News, Passenger load, Priority boarding, Electronic Devices

Delta Airlines

Airlines Are Fullest They´ve Been Since 1945

U.S. airlines had an average load factor of 82.8% last year, their highest since 1945, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation.

Load factors were even higher for domestic flights, averaging 83.4%. In addition, U.S. airlines carried 0.8 % more total system passengers in 2012, 736.6 million, than in 2011.

And the biggest carrier, when measured by number of passengers carried, was Delta Air Lines, carrying more system passengers than any other. It was the third year in a row that Delta hit this metric. Southwest Airlines carried more domestic passengers than any other airline for the ninth year in a row. United Airlines, its merger with Continental now complete, carried the most international passengers. (Source: DOT press release).

AA Tests Giving Priority Boarding to Passengers Who Check Bags

American Airlines is giving passengers who check their bags prioritized boarding in a test in four markets, letting them board between groups one and two.

Higher load factors and passengers’ desire to save on baggage fees and to skip the wait at the baggage carousel have made dealing with carry-on bags more time-consuming for airlines.

Flight attendants often urge passengers to quickly stow their bags in order to have an on time departure. In addition, flight attendant unions are reporting increased injuries among flight attendants and passengers from hoisting heavy bags into overhead bins or from improperly stowed bags falling out. American is testing the priority boarding in Austin, Washington Dulles Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. (Source: American Airlines, industry interviews).

FAA Continues to Examine Changing Policies on Inflight Reading Devices

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman would not comment on press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration might allow passengers to read their Kindles or Nooks during take-off. However, the spokesman did confirm that the FAA’s Portable and (PED) Advisory and Rulemaking Committee is continuing to examine policies for using cell phones, electronic readers and tablets on planes and will end deliberations in July.

The FAA actually allows airlines to decide what can and can’t be used right now on planes, but the FAA provides guidance on those policies. The current guidance requires passengers to turn everything off below 10,000 feet. The committee is not looking at cell phone use, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The committee has more than two dozen members, who include representatives of the FAA, Amazon, airlines, pilot and flight attendant unions, aircraft manufacturers, the FCC, the consumer electronics association and others. (Source: FAA interview).

IATA Forecasts Bigger Profits for Airlines in 2013

The latest financial forecast from the International Air Transport Association projects larger industry profits in 2013 for most airlines around the globe than it had estimated in December.

Tony Tyler, IATA´s director general and CEO, credited the improvement to optimism for the global economy. “Passenger demand has been strong and cargo markets are starting to grow again,” he said. IATA said that it expects North American airlines to make a $3.6 billion profit, which is slightly ahead of the $3.4 billion IATA originally projected for the year and well above the $2.3 billion profit reported in 2012.

Other regions were reporting smaller profits–$800 million in Europe, $1.4 billion in the Middle East, $600 million in South America and $100 million in Africa. IATA said that the recovery could be derailed by factors such as the continuing Eurozone crisis, specifically naming what it called the draconian bailout proposal for Cypriot financial institutions.
Tyler pointed out that travel demand has been supported by robust growth in emerging markets, reflecting a longer-term shift in the center of gravity in the industry. (Source: IATA press release).

Airline Industry News: Delta baggage policy & Southwest Fees

Delta baggage policy

Skipping to the Front of the Line

JetBlue Airways is testing a new ancillary service a $10 fee to use expedited security lanes at select airports. For $10, passengers can buy an Even More Speed option that lets them use expedited security lanes usually reserved for elite frequent flyer club members and first and business class ticket holders.

Even More Speed was originally part of Even More Space for seats with extra legroom, but JetBlue has now made the service a stand-alone option. There are other expedited security programs, including the Transportation Security Administration´s Pre Check program, a trusted traveler program whose members are pre-vetted and can not only go through an expedited security line but also go through an expedited security process. (Source: industry interviews.)

Southwest Institutes No Show Fee

Southwest Airlines, which does not charge a penalty to change a flight, will introduce a no-show fee on its least expensive tickets at some point this year. Passengers who book the cheapest fare and fail to show up for the flight will be charged a fee.

To avoid the fee, passengers just have to notify Southwest that they will not be on the flight. The fee applies only to Southwest´s cheapest fares; passengers buying more expensive tickets don´t have to tell the airline they won’t be on the flight.

Southwest is unique in that its travelers can book a flight, pay for it, not use the ticket and have a year to apply what they paid for that ticket to another purchase, with having to pay a penalty. The new fee is essentially saying "Give us the courtesy of letting us know," said a Southwest spokesman. (Source: interviews).

Airlines Still Profitable in Q3 2012

Major airlines still showed a profit for the third quarter of 2012 according to the latest Department of Transportation figures.

The largest scheduled passenger carriers showed a 6.4% profit margin, down from 6.8% from the same quarter a year earlier. The DOT said that the largest 10 airlines have achieved an operating profit margin as a group in each of the last six quarters. The DOT also reported that all U.S. passenger airlines collected $924 million in baggage fees and $652 million from reservation change fees in the third quarter.

Airlines do not break out the fees they collect for other ancillary fees, such as revenue from sating assignments and sales of food, beverages and entertainment, for the DOT. (Source: DOT press release).

American and US Airways Lay Groundwork for Pilot Deal

American Airlines and US Airways said that they have completed discussions with the unions representing American and US Airways pilots. The talks were to create a framework for employment of pilots as well as prepare for the possibility of integrating the pilots working for the two airlines, should American and US Airways merge.

The two pilot unions created a memorandum of understanding designed to help determine whether or not the two carriers should merge. (Source: American, US Airways’ press release).

Delta Baggage Policy

Delta Air Lines, which had planned on implementing a new baggage policy on single or conjuncted tickets, checking bags only between the origin and destination points indicated on that ticket, is delaying the new policy.

This is for instances in which travelers have separate tickets for a trip. Previously, Delta baggage policy and most other carriers in this circumstance would check through the bags to the final destination, but Delta´s new policy would end that convenience and require customers to claim and the recheck the bag after flying the first leg. (Source: Global Business Travel Association press release.)

Airline updates: fees increase

Delta Airlines

International Premium Travel Sees First Uptick in Nearly Two Years
The International Air Transport Association reported that international premium travel was up 1.7 percent in December 2009 over a year earlier. That’s the first increase since May 2008. Economy travel was up five percent over a year earlier.

The recession hit airlines hard throughout the first half of 2009, but a post-recession upturn began in the second half. May marked the low point for premium travel while February marked the low point for economy travel. (Source: IATA press release).

Global Air Capacity Grows for the Sixth Month in a Row More good news came from OAG, the aviation data tracking company.

It reported that in February, global airline capacity was up five percent, the sixth month in a row that it has increased. The single exception: North America, which reported a one percent decline in February in both flight frequency and capacity.

However, North America saw positive growth of three percent and two percent for frequency and capacity in flights to and from the region. Decreases continue on service between North America and Western Europe, where routes have five percent fewer seats and five percent fewer flights for the month.

Still, the OAG said airlines are adding routes in North America—108, with most being domestic flights. (Source: OAG press release).

U.S. Airline Revenue Up for First Time in More Than a Year
Other positive airline news: The Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 1.4 percent in January, reversing 14 consecutive months of declines.

Traffic was down very slightly--.4 percent—and the average price to fly one mile was up very slightly--.6 percent. James C. May, president and CEO of the ATA, said that the small revenue increase, coupled with a 17 percent increase in cargo traffic, could be the sign of a recovery. (Source: ATA press release).

Business Travel Continues Slow Recovery
Business travel continues its slow recovery with more than one in seven (15 percent) adults planning at least one business trip during the next six months, up from 13 percent recorded one year earlier.

According to the travel horizons survey co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association.The U.S. Travel Association projects a slight increase in both business and leisure travel for 2010 over 2009. The "perceived safety of travel," declined from 93.8 in October 2009 to 84.8 in February 2010, presumably due to lingering concerns about the "Christmas Bomber" incident that occurred in Detroit over the recent holidays. (Source: Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association press release).

Virgin America Ups Baggage Fees, American Charges for Blankets
Airlines continue to add on fees. American Airlines, following the lead of other airlines, will charge $8 for blankets and pillows in coach starting May 1.

Virgin America upped its baggage fee for all checked bags to $25 from $20. First Class passengers continue to check two bags for free; Main Cabin select and Main Cabin passengers with refundable fares can check their first bag for free. (Source: Virgin America press release, American statement).

Road Warriors Biggest Worry is Those at Home
Nearly 74 percent of business travelers say their stay-behind spouse has expressed concern about being left home alone, according to a survey commissioned by Logitech, a Swiss technology company.

Even more, 79 percent frequently worry about their significant other when traveling for business. Fifty-nine percent said they would look for a job with less business travel when the economy improves. And 54 percent would take a $5,000 paycut if it meant never having to travel for work again. (Source: Logitech press release)

Business Travel Airlines News

Airplane at take off.

Holiday Travel Gets Even Pricier
Flying on peak travel dates has always cost more, but this year it’s more expensive than ever, thanks to $10 surcharges several carriers are levying each way on certain dates.

Peak travel surcharge dates, according the fare monitoring site FareCompare.com, are Nov. 29 and 30, Dec. 19, 26 and 27, Jan 2 and 3, March 14, 20, 21 and 28, April 11 and May 28. American Airlines introduced the surcharge, US Airways followed and several others matched. (Source: FareCompare.com.)

Budding Corporate Travel Demand Sparks Airline Optimism
Corporate travel demand is improving, according to executives of the major legacy airlines.

They say corporate clients are taking to the skies in greater numbers, companies are easing restrictions and travelers in some cases are booking closer in to travel dates and increasingly selecting full fares.

"A lot of our corporate accounts are starting to hit the road again," said Delta Air Lines President Ed Bastian, adding that corporate fliers are "starting to move up the price point." Analysts sounded a similar theme throughout the industry's earnings calls. "There is evidence of improving travel demand, including from corporations," said Kevin Crissey of UBS. "All of the companies that have reported have cited this to one extent or another." Source: BTN Online

New Air-Traffic-Control Systems Offer Improved Communications Air-traffic controllers in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand now have modern satellite-based systems that operate over oceans.

With frequent automatic position reporting from airplanes and email-like communications between pilots and controllers, these new systems are designed to fill the kind of communication void that occurred after Air France Flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean last June.

The new systems offer many other benefits as well. The FAA’s NextGen program is aiming at extending these satellite benefits over land as well as over oceans, replacing the current ground-based communication system. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

United Offers One-Year, $249 Baggage Fee
United Airlines has put a new twist on baggage fees with Premier Baggage, charging customers a flat price that allows them to check two standard bags at no additional cost every time they fly on a United or United Express operated flight in a year. Customers can purchase a subscription for an introductory price of $249, entitling them to check two standard bags on United and United Express operated flights domestically and internationally, where applicable, rather than paying to check bags each trip.

The annual subscription also covers the standard checked baggage charge for up to eight companions traveling under the same confirmation number as the subscriber.

Mileage Plus Premier members are exempt from first and second bag fees on standard bags. (Source: United press release).

Track Flights on Your iPhone
FlightAware, which has more than two million monthly users using it for flight tracking, has released an application for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

Users can download the free app from the Apple App Store, allowing them to track the real-time status and position of airline and private flights in the United States on their iPhones. (Source: FlightAware press release).

High-Speed Rail Could Ease Air Gridlock
A Brookings Institution study finds that air corridors of 500 miles or less between metropolitan hubs —distances at which trains can compete with planes—are the source of an increasing number of air delays. One reason for the congestion — no alternative transportation.

The delays can be so onerous that they discourage some would be travelers, who opt to stay home. The government is investing billions to improve rail options in some of these markets, but it will be years before they’re ready for consumers to ride. (Sources: Brookings Institution press release).

Airline Updates for August 2008

Air Mexico

After Month-Long Hiatus, Airlines Try Another Fare Hike
The airfare monitoring website FareCompare.com reported that Northwest Airlines upped its domestic fares by nearly $80 roundtrip in over 4,000 city pairs for both business and leisure travelers.

The increase came after nearly a month of no airfare hikes. Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare, said that fares may be topping out, due to a sluggish economy and the fact that oil is down, relatively speaking, to the mid $120s per barrel.

He said revenue from added fees is also kicking in. (Source: FareCompare.com).

Delta Doubles Fee for Second Bag, Northwest Charges for First Bag FF Ticket Delta Air Lines upped its charge for a second bag to $50 from $25. It also said it would increase fees for specialty items that require special handling such as surfboards or ski equipment on domestic and international flights.

The new fees apply to tickets bought after July 31 for travel on or after Aug. 5. First Class, BusinessElite and Medallion customers will continue to be able to check up to three bags at no charge.

Customers checking bags on international flights may continue checking a first and second bag at no charge.

Northwest Airlines instituted a $15 charge for the first checked bagged, following American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways’ lead; this applied to tickets sold after July 10 for travel starting Aug. 28.

Frequent flier elites are exempt from the policy, along with full-fare coach passengers. As of Sept. 15, it will also begin charging service fees for frequent flyer tickets: $25 for domestic, $50 for transatlantic and $100 for transpacific travel. (Source: Delta, Northwest press releases).

Hawaiian Charges for First Bag, Phone Bookings
Hawaiian Airlines began charging $15 for the first piece of checked luggage on flights between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii; the first bag remains free on interisland flights.

Hawaiian will also begin charging a $10 ticketing fee for telephone bookings for interisland flights, $20 for all other routes and $25 for ticketing at the airport. (Source: Hawaiian Airlines press release).

Flight Attendants Decry Turning Planes into Flying Vending Machines
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), lamented the fact that US Airways is now charging for soft drinks in flight, saying it was turning aircraft into “flying vending machines.”

The group said the airline is nickel and diming passengers and turning flight attendants, who are safety pros, into cashiers. (Source: AFA-CWA press release).

Delta Restructures Loyalty Program, Upping Some Mileage Requirements

Delta Air Lines said it was restructuring its SkyMiles frequent flyer program, saying it wanted to give its members greater flexibility and more options when redeeming miles, including the ability to again book the last seat on a flight using miles and three redemption tiers for Award Travel within the continental United States, Alaska and Canada..

Tiers will start at 25,000, 40,000 and 60,000 miles round-trip rather than the two current Award levels starting at 25,000 and 50,000 miles for travel within the continental United States, Alaska and Canada. (Source: Delta press release).

Northwest Ads Nonstop Milwaukee-Los Angeles Service
Northwest Airlines is beginning daily nonstop service between Milwaukee and Los Angeles beginning Sept. 6, using the 148-seat Airbus 320. (Source: Northwest press release).

June Footnotes for Hotels & Car Rentals

Hotels

Italy view

Loews Hotels Introduces Baggage Buy Back Program

In the wake of American Airlines’ new $15 fee for checking bags, , Loews Hotels has introduced a new “Baggage Buy Back” incentive that will reimburse guests for their $15 checked baggage fee.

Arriving guests simply present any airline bag fee receipt at the front desk to receive the rebate, which will be issued in the form of a credit to their bill at checkout. The Baggage Buy Back rebate is available at Loews’ 18 properties in the U.S. and Canada, from June 15 through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

Loews Hotels will offer credit for up to two bags for a maximum of $30 per occupied room per stay. (Source: Loews press release).

Cars

Airline Loyalty Programs Offering Savings, Bonus Miles to Car Renters Airlines are giving their frequent flyer members a chance to earn more miles or get discounts when they rent cars.

Delta Air Lines and Advantage Rent A Car are partnering to allow SkyMiles members
to earn 200 miles per day on any class of vehicle rental through Advantage. with a maximum of 2,000 miles per rental. Additionally, SkyMiles members may earn up to 6,000 miles for rentals completed through July 13.

Northwest Airlines is partnering with Hertz to allow WorldPerks members to save 50 percent and earning double miles on weekend rentals in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico through June 30. WorldPerks members can earn 50 WorldPerks miles per day for Hertz rentals of one to four days, and 500 WorldPerks miles for Hertz rentals of five days or more.(Source: Advantage, Northwest press releases).

Spotlight On…..What You Really Dislike About Flying

It’s not the individual airlines that so frustrate air travelers, according to a new Travel Industry Association survey of air travelers. What irritates you most is the air travel process.

The TIA survey of more than 1,000 air travelers found that the more you fly, the more frustrated you get.

  • Seventy-eight percent of air travelers believe the air travel system is either broken or in need of moderate correction
  • Sixty-two percent believe the air travel system is deteriorating
  • Thirty-three percent of air travelers are dissatisfied with the air travel system and 48 percent of frequent air travelers (those who do five trips or more per year) are dissatisfied
  • Thirty-nine percent feel their time is not respected in the air travel process and that increases to 51 percent among frequent travelers.

The TIA is blaming flight delays caused by an outdated air traffic control system as a fundamental cause of the aviation industry’s problems and is holding a summit later this money to push Congress to address the problem.