Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free checked bags on all airlines?

Remember the popular outrage when Bank of America proposed a monthly $5 debit card fee? It should come as no surprise, then, that U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C., thinks government should be able to tell airlines what they can and can’t charge.

Kissell, who is expected to face a tough reelection bid in the coming year, has introduced a bill that would guarantee airline passengers one checked bag at no additional cost. This might be hugely popular with the traveling public. Airlines are down there with banks and Congress in public perception, and those baggage fees drive travelers nuts.

But should the federal government be able to block companies from operating in a free market? Instead of that heavy hand, how about letting passengers decide whether they’re willing to pay the fees? We bet Southwest Airlines, which is making hay over its lack of baggage fees, thinks competition is a good thing. Maybe Kissell will next require that the airlines can’t charge more for premium seating, or that they have to serve free meals on board.

Besides, we wonder if such a ban would even save passengers money. Wouldn’t the airlines just bake those fees into higher fares, or find other ways to recoup it? And if they couldn’t, might Kissell’s legislation spark bankruptcies and job losses in the airline industry?

“Hidden fees and charges are unfair to passengers, and it’s time we stand up for all Americans by ensuring these basic minimum standards for air travel,” Kissell said. Except the baggage fees aren’t hidden at all. In fact, banning them would probably prompt fees that actually are hidden.

We love the idea of free bags. But we love the idea of a free market even more.

-- Taylor Batten

13 comments:

Gene said...

Oh, but continue to allow employers in "the great state of NC" to continue to underpay, overwork & mistreat their employee's. Yea, you go NC. Sad.

S. Referee said...

What part of the Airline industry is the free market? From where I sit, it isn't. It's in a highly regulated space, the airlines can't even conduct their own security without involving the TSA, and passengers are made to go through security theater just to get on a plane. The entire industry is a case study in central planning; it's no wonder that American Airlines declared bankruptcy.

Cleansweep said...

The airlines claim that they are charging passengers for their baggage because of fuel costs, so those costs should be passed on to passengers in a fair manner. I believe that passengers should be given a weight allowance when they fly and they should be allowed to carry up to that allowance without being charged extra for their luggage

Wiley Coyote said...

Then fly an airline that doesn't charge bag fees.

Most already charge extra over 40 pounds even if you're preferred.

Next, the Feds will be telling airlines they will have to stock "healthier foods" and what to charge for those.

Stay the heII out of the free market.

WashuOtaku said...

No free market when the airport down the road is dominated by one carrier and others, including Southwest, will not even compete at that airport.

I would support such a rule that requires one free checked-in bag... it would actually improve the overall experience of flying instead of fighting for overhead space on the plane with other people that over-packed their carry-on lugguage. Though I doubt it would make flying an enjoyement again, it would at least make it less stressfull.

Wiley Coyote said...

Washu...

Here the link to airlines that fly out of CD....pick one.

http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Airport/AirlineandFlightInformation/Pages/Default.aspx

You have choices and many of the others charge as well so it isn't just US Air.

Drive to Greenville if you want to fly Southwest, but they bought out AirTran, which flies out of Charlotte and they charge bag fees.

So it is somewhat disingenuous for SW to spend all that money advertising no bag fees when AirTran charges.

9496f356-ce70-11e0-ac78-000bcdca4d7a said...

Southwest has been working to get into CD for years, but there seem to be roadblocks. Do you suppose the "home airline" doesn't want the competition?

Jason said...

How about if airlines want to enjoy government-protected bankruptcy status, they have to abandon all extra fees and offer a straight-up airfare? If they can make it on their own two feet, then they can do as they like.

John said...

Typical Kissel BS.

There is NOTHING on the face of the earth that costs us more than government regulation. Why? Because government is the only entity that can do two key things... lose money consistently and stay in business & raise prices (taxes) in a bad economy.

Business 101... revenue has to exceed expenses or you go out of business. NOTHING government can do is going to change that. If you take away the bag fee, then ticket prices go up at least as much. That is reality. Now, if you want to argue that it's better to have it in the ticket price and charge EVERY passenger whether they check bags or not, that is a different argument.

Ways exist to avoid this charge. THAT is part of a free market society. Government has no business getting involved unless airlines got together to eliminate those opportunities to avoid the fees. Unless you want to embrace a centrally managed economy and that has already failed in the Soviet Union and most Communist block countries!

John said...

Wiley Coyote,

Southwest indicated that they will be ending the bag fees on AirTran once the merger is completed.

John said...

Jason,

Here is a question...

You and I both buy a ticket on the same flight... I have 2 80lb checked bags and you have a carryon. The airline is forced to move the checked baggage fee to the base ticket price so my baggage fee gets added to YOUR ticket. That's "fair" how?

Wiley Coyote said...

John....

How does your fee get added?

YOU are charged for it.

How do you know JAson isn't using an award ticket that costs nothing?

Or, is a Dividend Miles member who pays no bag fees?

Overhead Bin Space Lover said...

The problem is the bag fees create delays going through security and boarding and exiting the plane. Once bag fees were implemented the TSA lines and the boarding/exiting process got a lot longer. Plus passengers were a lot crankier as we fight to get on the plane first so we will have overhead bin space. The people in the last boarding row are really angry as they have to gate check. Making the first bag free would eliminate many of these problems. The airline should put an averaged bag fee into the price of the ticket. This would be about $7 or $8 per ticket and be well worth the reduction in hassle.