Airline to Charge for Checking Luggage

ByABC News via logo

Feb. 10, 2007 — -- First airlines took away free food. Then blankets and pillows disappeared. And now checked luggage may be on the endangered list.

Today, Spirit Airlines will become the first U.S. carrier to allow passengers to check only one piece of luggage for free. A second bag will cost passengers $10.

"I'm surprised it's taken them this long to get around to doing this," aviation analyst Darryl Jenkins told "Good Morning America Weekend Edition."

Spirit says it's a way to keep ticket prices low, but passengers worry about other airlines joining in.

The Spirit deal is a bargain compared to the new policy at British Airways. Passengers on certain flights could pay as much as $235 extra each way for a second bag.

Europe's low-cost RyanAir charges passengers for every bag they check.

"This is a back door way to get additional revenue without increasing your cost, without increasing the airline cost by one penny," aviation analyst Martin Deutsch said.

Airlines have also reduced the allowed weight on checked bags to 50 pounds each. Anything heavier carriers a heavy price tag.

Last year, U.S. airlines made $426 million in bag fees.

Even with that added revenue, airlines lost nearly seven bags for every 1,000 checked -- the worst record in 16 years.

"You know what I do on international flights? I FedEx my bags to my hotel," Jenkins said.

One way to avoid all these fees is to fly in the front of the plane. There usually are more generous policies for those flying business or first class.

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