COMMENTARY | It really was only a matter of time before an airline decided to break into the carry-on bag fee market. USA Today is reporting Allegiant Air will begin charging $35 for carry-on bags. The report also states one personal item will be free as long as it fits under the seat compartment. According to VegasInc.com, the policy will not affect anyone who has already purchased tickets, but it will affect everyone who buys an airfare starting Wednesday. The fee situation is really getting out of hand.
Airlines are faced with rising fuel costs, just like motorists. Bloomberg reports that in the third quarter of 2011, airlines collected nearly $2.4 billion in fees. While those have helped airlines turn profits in an uneasy economy, the fees are not appreciated by passengers. But passengers should love the fees.
When airlines charge a fee for an optional service like carry-on bags that need to be stored in overhead compartments, the industry is not raising fares for everyone. While an a la carte menu of services is something travelers have had to adjust to, fees keep airfares lower by giving airlines different profit centers.
Many fees are avoidable, which means travelers only have to pay for the services that are used instead of paying a blanket rate for everything. While business travelers are probably better served by the fee structure than leisure travelers, especially families, airlines seem confident the flying public will adjust.
The real question is how many other airlines will jump on the carry-on bag fee idea. While Spirit and Allegiant are great airlines for their particular niche, when US Air, Delta or AirTran jump on board, the movement will have come full circle. For now, travelers looking to save a dollar or two on travel will have to start making sure those bags fit comfortably under the seat in front of them.