The airline industry lobbying groups won big on this one.
The legislation that reauthorize the funding for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had a provision that would have allowed the “DOT to decide whether airline fees were “unreasonable”
As of yesterday, that provision was dropped, meaning that airlines could continue to charge fees. Ancillary airline fees are big businesses for the airline industry. According to Reuters, the “U.S. airlines revenue from baggage and reservation change fees increased from $5.7 billion in 2010 to $7.5 billion in 2017”.
On one hand, there is a case to be made as to whether the government should be in the business of mandating airlines to set what it considers to be reasonable fees. On the other hand, there is the customer protection and advocacy aspect, since the airlines are just adding fees to improve their bottom line. Just because they can.
I am fine with the fees as long as they are reasonable, but that is highly subjective.
For example, I generally find the cancellation fees for the major domestic carriers to be excessive. It’s not uncommon that a cancellation can cost a passenger to the tune of $200 for a domestic ticket and more for an international ticket.
Also, just this month alone, American Airlines and Delta Airlines raised the first checked fees, following the heels of other airlines that also recently instituted increases, including United and Jetblue. This brings the checked-in bag fees to $30 for the first checked bag (from $25), and $40 for the second bag (from $35) for the major carriers.
With the increase in prices, I think more and more passengers would try to stuff everything onboard their carry-on bag (as if passengers aren’t already vying to get on board first for overhead bin space).
There is actually one other winner, and that is Southwest Airlines. I don’t usually fly Southwest but its first two bags still fly free! This is an enticing benefit compared to the fees and price hikes charged by other airlines. I hope Southwest didn’t just start their marketing campaign. They should change their marketing ad to state “Other airlines charge up to $140 round-trip”.