So there you are, flying from Dallas to Los Angeles on American Airlines. You feel good at having paid $151 roundtrip for your ticket on American Airlines (this is a common fare we found today when searching a range of dates).
And then, you check a suitcase. You know it costs a lot per bag, so you squashed everything into one big heavy bag. The suitcase cost is $30 each way, ie another $60 roundtrip. Could be worse, you tell yourself.
But, wait. You read a bit further into the fine print of American’s baggage policy and you discover that you also have to pay a heavy bag fee ($200 each way for your 75lb suitcase) and you also have to pay a large bag fee because it is a big suitcase (another $200 each way).
Add that all up, if you dare, and now you are paying $151 for your ticket and an extra $860 for your suitcase. You weigh three times what your suitcase weighs, you get to sit in a seat, earn frequent flier miles, and maybe get a free drink of soda, your suitcase gets tossed in the hold.
On what strange planet does it make sense to charge $860 to fly a suitcase between Dallas and Los Angeles and back, but only $151 to fly a passenger? (AA’s baggage fees can be seen on this page.)
You then decide to spend the big bucks to buy a first class seat on the flights, because perhaps what you’ll spend on the flights is made up with a reduction in baggage fees. Sorry, your $860 fee drops by a mere $60, to $800, while your ticket price increases to perhaps $839. Not a winning strategy at all.
So you ask American Airlines if you can buy a second seat for your suitcase, give it its own frequent flier number, and take it on board with you? They say “no”. You also ask them why it is six times more expensive for a smaller lighter bag to fly in the hold than a passenger to fly in the cabin, at which point you get mysteriously disconnected from the call.
You mightn’t think it possible, but the $860 increases to $880 for a second bag, $1100 for a third bag, and $1200 for a fourth and subsequent bags. If you needed three bags, you’d save money by paying for a friend to travel with you and check the third bag on their ticket. Yes, two people can travel with three bags between them more cheaply than one person can.
All of this is why we hate the airlines. Heart-stopping greed.
Oh, lastly, you read through the rules one more time and realize it is considerably cheaper to travel with two slightly smaller suitcases, that between them take up more space than one suitcase, and which can now carry up to 100lbs in them. But you don’t understand why two suitcases, weighing more and taking up more space, are so much less expensive than one large suitcase that weighs less.
This too is why we hate the airlines. Not just heart-stopping greed, but greed that has no pretense at being based on any notion of fairness or common sense at all.
You want some more reasons?
Well, what say that instead of booking a ticket for yourself, you booked it for your (grand)child. Now you’re looking at $151 plus $300 unaccompanied minor fee. Yes, it costs three times as much for a child to travel as an adult. We’re not quite sure what that pays for – you also have to provide a gate escort for your child to take them all the way to the gate for departure, and to meet them at the gate upon arrival, and AA hastens to warn :
Keep in mind, our their flight attendants will be busy with onboard duties and can’t continuously monitor your child during their flight. Let your child know to ring the call button if they need anything.
Well, what say you decide to bring a pet with you as well? If you’re allowed to have it in the cabin with you, you’ve just spent $250 extra. Again – your ticket, $151. Your animal with you, taking up no extra space and not getting frequent flier miles – $250.
And if the animal must be in the hold, the fee goes up to $400.
ps : There are luggage shipping services that will pick up your bag and deliver it to you at the other end, plus of course, regular UPS/Fedex type service as well. Out of interest, I costed out a 75lb bag sent via Lugless, (not necessarily the best or cheapest of such services, merely one I’m familiar with) including pickup and next day delivery each way. It wasn’t cheap. It was $420. But, that $420, for door to door service – no need to deal with your bag at all, and including guaranteed delivery and $700 of insurance, plus tracking and phone based friendly support, is also less than half the American Airlines fee.
If third parties can do the entire from door to door service, and offer these extra services that an airline surely doesn’t, how is it that American needs to charge over twice as much while providing so much less?
Which brings us back to the heart-stopping greed thing.