Airline Baggage Fees Growing, Spreading Globally

July 08--Airline baggage fees, which among U.S. carriers have risen fivefold in just five years, continue to proliferate and are catching on internationally, according to a report released Monday.

Fees introduced this year indicate "the pace is quickening for a la carte fees and optional extras to become an everyday component of airline pricing," according to a report by IdeaWorks Co. and Cartrawler, "Bag Fees Sprout this Spring in Asia, Europe and America."

The government of India recently approved a la carte pricing, saying the approach offers the potential to "make basic fares more affordable" by allowing consumers to pick and choose the services desired, according to the report.

And several European carriers, including Air France, British Airways and KLM, introduced bag charges for intra-Europe flights.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Frontier Airlines recently said it would add the controversial fee for carry-on bags, the third airline to do so.

"It's rather like green shoots poking through a melting blanket of snow," the report said of new bag fees.

Luggage fees are a relatively recent phenomenon, begun in 2008. U.S. carriers alone collected $3.3 billion in bag fees last year. Several recent reports suggest consumers are getting used to them.

"In reality, the story of bag fees was big in the media, but consumer purchase behavior appeared indifferent to fee or no-fee policies," the report said.

A byproduct of fewer checked bags has been better handling of those bags. Reports on the rate of mishandled bags and baggage complaints in the U.S. have decreased every year, the report said.

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