The New Stuff

Baggage Fees Flying To Ridiculous Altitude


If you're like most Americans this holiday season, Christmas and New Years means a time of joy, relaxation, a break from the daily grind, seeing family, and ultimately the rancorous journey of getting there which sometimes clouds the whole reason we put ourselves through this festive flapdoodle each year. If you're not sure how this all began, let me enlighten you. Many years ago Macy's called a meeting with the rest of the retail owners and said, “Okay, here's the deal. We're going to throw an overrated parade each year to kick off the holiday season. In return, you're going to convince people that spending a lot of money and buying whole bunch of worthless materialistic crap is how you show love and appreciation... cool?” Seriously, I'm sure the three wise men had to deal with those annoying perfume sample girls before they got to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh department. The last thing we need this time of year are airlines telling us that the gifts and ultra-necessary accouterments we're exchanging with loved ones are going to cost us an arm and a leg. Inordinate baggage fees collected by the airlines are completely out of control and only getting worst as some of them recently have the colossal gall to announce upcoming increases once again.

Ready for the numbers? According to a report by MSNBC, “just-released figures from the Department of Transportation, the nation’s top 20 airlines took in $2.56 billion in baggage during the first nine months of the year. Since then, they’ve almost certainly topped the $2.7 billion that they earned during all of 2009.” The New York Times goes on to report that this is attributed to most “major carriers now charging anywhere between $15 and $35 per bag.” Wow! That's a lot of bags of peanuts, my friends. How is it the airlines are collecting billions of dollars more each year and my flights seem like the same old unimpressive point A to point B with the highlight of the trip being a free can of Cran-Apple and a pre-flight groping compliments of the TSA?

Luke Dudley, a fed up frequent flier who launched, LuggageLimits.com – a free site that will calculate how much dough it will cost you to bring along your possessions based on airline and departure/destination cities – says, “as of now, the American airline with the best baggage policy, by far, is Southwest Airlines, since it still allows two free bags per customer. JetBlue Airways still gives travelers one bag for free.”

The constant increase of baggage fees, as you can imagine, has led to passengers stuffing of the overhead compartments and under-seat areas, packing them to the brims in an attempt to beat the surcharges. Great! Just what we need, less wiggle room in an already overcrowded cabin redolent of a free-clinic waiting room on a Sunday morning. Remember the days when people used to get up and stand in the isle simply to stretch? And good luck getting up to pee now. If you're not stuck behind the bad food cart moving one seat per air-mile, you're standing there waiting for the fat man to reach for a bag to put in the second seat they made him buy... all so you can urinate in a restroom that appears to be designed by someone quite familiar with the yellow brick road. Since we're in the bathroom now, stop telling us the water isn't potable. Nobody's drinking it! Why would we with all that free soda in exchange for our $35 dollar bag below?

I say, the airlines should not be exonerated from the simple rule of business we've all agreed upon: You get what you pay for. If we are paying more and more for our flights, we should be getting more in return. Call me entitled, but being grateful that we got there without a crash is not enough.

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