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Did We Always Have to Pay For Checked-In Luggage?

One thing we always worry about whenever we travel is paying extra for luggage we bring on trips. But did you know we didn’t always have to pay for the bags we bring on-flight?

Airline companies in the US did not charge fees for checked-in baggage before. But due to the effects of the 2008 recession, they started adding fees. They continued to keep the practice since the public didn’t seem to mind it.

Why Did Baggage Fees Start?

In May 2008, American Airlines announced that they would start charging a fee for all checked-in luggage. They are the first US carrier to impose such a fee. While it is not uncommon for smaller companies to charge fees, this was a massive step for big-name airlines.

American Airlines initially charged $15 per flight for the first bag. Today, American Air, United, and Delta charge at least $25 for domestic flights.

Now, let’s find out why they charged fees in the first place. In 2008, several companies had to deal with severe losses. Jet fuel was also at its all-time high. About $150 per barrel, and it only made sense to charge so to help with the overhead expenses. (Source: Fare Compare)

Do We Still Have to Pay for the Baggage Fees?

Now that jet fuel has gone down to its regular rates, people wonder if the fees would remain. The answer is yes – the baggage fee will still be charged, and the reason is quite simple. The addition of the fees earned several carriers billions of dollars. (Source: Fare Compare)

How Did the Fees Change Over the Years?

While it is understood that baggage fees would need to be paid, there are several ways airlines would hide the added expenses. When American Airlines started charging for baggage, others quickly followed.

In 2010, Spirit Airlines imposed a carry-on bag fee, and other small carriers followed the trend.

By 2016, American Airlines and United Air introduced basic economy fares on certain flights, requiring the passenger to pay for any carry-on.

But did you know Southwest is the only airline that did not charge for carry-on and allowed up to two free checked-in luggage? (Source: Fare Compare)

What Other Fees Do Airlines Charge Us?

When Airlines started charging for checked-in bags, they also began to think about other things they could charge over to their clientele.

Some carriers would charge for snacks, drinks, pillows, blankets, and even headsets that you can even take with you. When they finally realized that it wasn’t catching on, they announced the return of free meals for economy class.

Other charges include added surcharges when you choose to fly on peak travel time—days near the holidays and certain seasons. In more recent times, carriers would charge for international flights as well. (Source: Fare Compare)

Can We Avoid These Fees?

While some of the fees are unavoidable, here are some tips you can follow to avoid others.

  • Pack light to avoid paying for large suitcases. Check the airlines for those who do charge for small carry-ons as well.
  • Pack your own snacks. That will definitely save you from spending for in-flight food which can be quite costly.
  • Before purchasing your tickets make a habit of comparing prices between other airlines. This way you would know who has the better deal.

(Source: Fare Compare)

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