Canada’s Airlines Are Raising Checked Baggage Fee To $30 For Lowest-fare Passengers This Fall

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Both Air Canada and WestJet have announced that they’ll be raising their checked baggage fee to $30 for lowest-fare passengers whose fare bucket doesn’t include baggage privileges.

Currently prices for checked baggage are at $25 for the first bag and this price will be raised by $5 in early October (Oct. 1 for WestJet and Oct. 5 for Air Canada).

Ancillary revenue has become THE major cash cow for airlines worldwide but especially in North America and non-status, economy class passengers who book the cheapest fares are usually the ones who pay the piper.

The Vancouver Sun (access here) reported that both of Canada’s major carrier are raising prices simultaneously.

The country’s two largest airlines are raising the fee for the first checked bag to $30 from $25, and for the second bag to $50 from $30.

The moves were made swiftly after major U.S. airline JetBlue Airways Corp. hiked its fees for checked bags and to change a ticket.

“This is the first change since 2014 and will help offset overall increasing costs and keep overall ticket prices competitive,” Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur wrote in an email.

The new baggage fees apply on flights across Canada, to and from the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico, departing on or after Oct. 5.

I’d be curious to know what increasing costs these are exactly because I fail to see any factor that would justify higher expenses for transporting baggage – a service that has traditionally been included in any air ticket. Currently prices for international travel have been as cheap as we haven’t seen in over a decade.

WestJet’s changes apply on flights starting Oct. 1 for domestic bookings made as of last Friday, and as of Tuesday on flights to the U.S. and international destinations.

“By raising fees for optional services, such as checked bags, we can continue to maintain the lower fares our guests expect,” added WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart. She said its fares and fees allow passengers to pay for services that matter most to them.

The fees apply to the lowest fare classes at both airlines.

Fees are waived for WestJet Plus passengers, gold and silver rewards members or those booking with RBC World Elite Mastercards. …

Airlines have been adding fees for a decade and now charge for seats with more legroom, early boarding, upgrades, food and beverages, entertainment and wireless access. Air Canada earned more than $1 billion from these payments last year while WestJet collected about $440 million.

Overall I agree with most select service options as I often don’t require a particular part of the service features offered but this measure seriously feels like gouging the customer once again.

In my case I don’t check a bag on 9 out of 10 flights but at the same time I’m also flying in a premium cabin many times and just go on short trips. This doesn’t apply to the average traveler and I find it sort of ironic that those who rely on the low priced Economy travel options are the ones being gouged. The lowest fare class doesn’t actually mean the ticket has to be very cheap to begin with. When airlines such as United introduced their Basic Economy it didn’t even include a regular size carry on – a rule that created plenty of trouble in United Airlines operations and they back paddled on that rule.

Conclusion

From all indicators it appears that this simply a reactionary move with the two carriers seeing others can get away with it so they decided to join the party. Airlines were doing badly in the post 9/11 era with fuel prices up and these ancillary fees came along. Suddenly even the worst airlines in the skies were up on cloud 9 again.

I believe any ticket should have one free bag included to make life easier for everybody and to come back to a common sense level. Of course that is wishful thinking as the airlines will in no way give up their golden goose worth Billions of dollars.

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