Baggage blues: Readers speak out against airlines' baggage policies
A sampling of readers' comments about airlines' baggage fees.
Northwest Travel Guides
We asked what you thought about airlines' baggage fees, and more than 100 Times readers replied. Everyone was fed up and angry.
You resent the extra fees for checking bags. You're mad at other passengers who lug supersized carry-on bags to beat the fees. And some of you aren't going to take it any more: You've switched to Southwest Airlines, which doesn't charge for checked luggage, or you're taking road trips.
Here's a sampling of readers' comments.
— Kristin Jackson, Seattle Times
Squeezing the customers
Apparently the airlines feel that by squeezing passengers both physically and financially they can make more profit. I think they're chasing away the customers they need to be successful, and they'll wake up one day and wonder why they were so shortsighted.
My adult children and their families are so disgusted with the airlines' attitude they now drive or take the train most of the time. Businesses are now encouraging conference calls instead of out-of-state business meetings whenever possible.
I have always flown either Delta or Alaska with an occasional Hawaiian Airlines flight. I refused to fly Southwest because I wanted a reserved seat. Well, guess who is now an ardent Southwest flyer? They don't charge for luggage and their process for getting a seat has been refined to the point it is now painless. They're cheerful and polite and don't pretend to be anything but an efficient lower-cost way to fly.
When Southwest doesn't fly to my destination and I have to take another airline, I cram as much as I can into one bag, usually sharing it with my husband...
— Sharon Oechsner, Tacoma
Bad policies, bad behavior
As a frequent traveler, I've seen appallingly selfish behavior by some people trying to avoid baggage fees. Bringing on bags that are oversized or overstuffed. Sneaking on two maximum-sized (carry-on) bags, plus a purse or laptop. Squeezing bags into overheads at the front of the plane even though their seats are in back. Slipping bags under other passengers' seats.
Of course, the attendants have to deal with the heavy bags, passenger disputes, and the extra time to load the plane and find the last little nooks where latecomers can stow their bags. Perhaps that's one reason why airlines are extending estimated flight times.
The solution is simple. Airlines should assume that at least 50 percent of passengers will have enough baggage to be checked. Then increase all ticket prices $12-$15. Certainly, add fees for more than one bag. But one checked bag should be built into the price of a ticket.
— Mark Hinshaw, Seattle
I refuse to pay to have my bag fly on the same plane with me. I will always carry on (my bag) no matter what.
Unfortunately, the bean counters at the airlines decided they could nickel and dime their customers. I think eventually it will come back to bite them in the butt.
What's next? Charging for seats, seat belts, arm rests? Using the bathrooms? Why don't we all just fly naked, standing, with our arms up in the air the whole flight? Then who needs baggage?
— Susan Mortimer, Woodinville
Charge for carry-ons
"As a former airline employee, I have one major comment. The airlines all have it backward. ... They need to charge for every carry-on after the first purse or briefcase. The checked bags (up to two per person) should be free. That would alleviate the congestion at boarding and expedite on-time departures. Add $10 or $20 to every ticket if need be, but charge for the bags people carry on."
— Veronica Johnson, Seattle
Taken for a ride
I just completed a trip with Alaska ($15 each way for my bag) and found myself watching other passengers stuffing incredibly oversized luggage in the overhead bins while the attendants stood around and watched or, in a couple of instances, helped! They jammed so hard you could hear the plastic in the bins cracking.
Then the rest of us who dutifully paid for large bags got to stand around in the aisles while all these bags were disengaged from the overheads at the other end. Then we got to wait while our bags were delivered to the carousel. The scofflaws were on their way home by then, of course patting their wallets with their extra 30 bucks in them. Oh yeah, it was fun. I just love being a sucker.
— Mertie Bourque, Edmonds
Switched to Southwest
Thanks for the chance to vent about airline baggage fees. The seats are smaller, the food is gone, but the baggage fees are the worst affront. With fares all over the place, the airlines could easily include the cost of one bag — or even two — in the ticket price. Southwest Airlines does that, and they are one of the few carriers making money. They are now my preferred carrier.
— Darryl Johnson, Burien
Weigh the passengers
The question that I have asked myself frequently is, if weight is such a concern, why don't they weigh the passengers, too? How many times have I stood next to a 250-pound guy with pretty much the same size baggage, and then I had to pay an extra $100 because my luggage was a few pounds over? Think how much more fair the system would be if you stepped on the scale with all your stuff.
— Fiona, Seattle
I am taking fewer, lighter bags. It is ridiculous that airlines pretend that people can travel without luggage. When this began they said it was because of rising fuel prices. Well, fuel is down and fees stay and rise. Can't squeeze more in the bag because of the fee for overweight bags! Raise the ticket by $10 and let me check two bags for free.
— Marta Varee Pearson, Mount Vernon
I used to travel a lot for work and used to be irritated by the delays on departure due to people trying to stuff too much in the overhead bins. The last people on the plane never have any room and then there is further delay while their luggage is checked. I think that airlines should not allow any carry-ons except the two personal items. There would be more on-time departures, and less hassle getting to your seat.
— Wendy McDaniel, Seattle
As a frequent traveler, I am so tired of standing in the security checkpoint while passengers ahead of me load up several containers and add suitcases and purses on the conveyor belt, thus delaying everyone behind them. There is a simple solution. Charge for carry-on baggage, not checked baggage. Loading the plane would be smoother and quicker.
— Carolyn Fuleihan, Toledo, Lewis County
Exploited by airlines
Thanks for the forum to vent about this. U.S. airline passengers have been nickeled and dimed for the past nine or 10 years. This is one more disgusting example. We are charged for things now that we did not have to pay for years, and meanwhile fares keep going up and service has deteriorated.
So many travelers take long plane trips across this vast country. It's pretty darn hard to pack everything in a carry-on to avoid a baggage fee, not to mention all the restricted items that can't be brought on planes now. I think it's robbery to make passengers pay for one checked bag. I'm willing to compromise and pay for a second checked bag, but to be charged for the first one?
Consumers are being exploited by the airline industry. The airline industry has us over a barrel as most of us can't stop flying in protest unless we want to be cut off from family and friends.
— Diane DerBoghosian, Seattle
I usually take one carry-on and pack carefully with just a couple of changes of clothes, especially if I am going to visit friends or family where I know I can wash my clothes. It is hard for a woman to not overpack. ... However, American travelers could do a lot more to lighten their loads ... It pays to be prepared and pack lightly if you are taking a carry-on. Otherwise, pay the extra fees and check them.
— Sandra Miller, Olympia
Board late, avoid fees
I travel with a bulky medical device for my sleep apnea, which takes up a lot of room in my luggage. I was feeling resentful about having to pay for checking my bag. When I try to carry all of my luggage on, I get exhausted by the elbowing and scramble for overhead bin space.
My solution has been to sit at the gate until the final boarding call is announced. Then I roll my carry-on down the breezeway and get notified by an attendant that there's no more room in the bins, but they'd be happy to check my bag. I graciously give them my bag, and they tag it, take it away and put it directly in the plane's cargo hold. For free.
— Susanne King, Seattle
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.