Have you seen the new TV ad skewering airline bag fees? It features a smiling New York cabbie hustling his fares' luggage into the trunk of his taxi, then surprising them with a special charge. Some sample dialog:
Taxi Driver: "Just so you know, I need another $25 for putting the bag in the trunk."
Passenger #1: "No you don't."
Taxi Driver: "You know, carry-ons are free, but when you put it in the trunk..."
Passenger #2: "No, no, no, no, this is not right!"
Passenger #3: "Open your trunk, we're out of here."
No, it's not an ad from a passenger rights group; it's from JetBlue. The airline wants to be sure you know that they don't charge for a first checked bag. Interestingly, they haven't been promoting that freebie much until now.
Perhaps the carrier was weighing the advantages of the money a first checked-bag fee could bring in versus the good will and hopefully bigger market share that a non-fee would bring -- as demonstrated by Southwest.
Flying JetBlue or Southwest is one way to avoid a fee most travelers despise, and there are other fee-avoidance methods as well. In fact, you might be surprised at some of the companies who are begging for the privilege paying your bag fees. Yep, you heard right.
Checked-bag fees really add up; these days, many carriers charge $25 for the first bag and as much as $35 for a second -- and these prices are just one-way. So let's say a family of four each checks a bag -- that's $200 roundtrip. If the family is foolish enough to check two bags each, the cost of the trip jumps by $480. Now that's "staycation" territory, if you ask me.
But fear not; I'm here to help -- or least to let you know about your alternatives. It's up to you to decide if they will work for you.
Did you know some hotels want to pay your bag fees? They do indeed.
It has nothing to do with the goodness of their hearts and everything to do with marketing; the economy in recent years has been rough on everyone and the hospitality business is no exception. They want you, and are willing to offer enticements like bag fee reimbursement.
So you might want to stay at a Kimpton Hotel on your next vacation. Not familiar with this high-end coast-to-coast chain? You may recognize some of their brands like Hotel Palomar and Hotel Monaco, but other properties go under a variety of names.
Anyway, Kimpton recently began a new promotion called "We've got your bag," which gives you cash back to cover your bag fees. To an extent.
What you should know: You pay the first checked-bag fee (if any) and they pay for your second bag, up to $25. Much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but -- do you travel with two suitcases?
Plus, Kimpton properties cannot be confused with, say, a Motel 6 (and this is no knock on the latter, believe me -- both chains serve different needs). I recently looked online for the "best rate" for a one night stay in Kimpton's Hotel Palomar in Los Angeles later this month and it will run you just a hair under $300. So if a bag fee is going to make or break your trip, this might not be the right accommodation for you.