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Checked baggage

2010-03-26 18:59:54.709442+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

When Charlene and I flew out east, we flew American Airlines, because they had the least stops into Toledo. Generally I really like Southwest, but the last few times we've flown we've had trouble getting seats together, and they fly into Detroit, which is a bit further away.

But I did wonder why American was charging $25 per checked bag, it always seemed to me like an airline would want to reduce the number of big heavy bags being slung around the cabin.

Here's an interesting look at the Southwest Airlines baggage strategy.

[ related topics: Aviation ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-27 09:56:11.380952+00 by: DaveP

I've wondered the same thing about checked baggage. Makes more sense now, especially when I think about the mixed-bag of planes DAL now has after eating NWA and basically ruining MSP.

One of the things that I've seen happening on business trips is sending yourself a package via UPS, or if you work for a company with a lot of offices like I do, inter-company-mail. Traveling is a lot less unpleasant when you're only carrying a small bag.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-27 14:44:03.802868+00 by: andylyke

I've bristled at the cabins of "majors" being stuffed with passengers' steamer trunk sized "roll-ons", and on my last trip west flew SWA. As the article suggests, loading and unloading times are short (plane size as well as luggage handling), and I enjoyed the flight more knowing that my luggage would get nearly to the curb, rather than my having to horse it on and off the craft.

Luggage policy is only the beginning, though. Everyone I encountered in my SWA trip was pleasant and helpful, even including the passengers, who don't muscle ahead to get luggage space. And changing a reservation? No problem. I stayed an additional week, and only got hit for $5 as the difference in price for my later flight. This even though I was on a very inexpensive "senior" fare.

SWA is my carrier of choice from now!

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-27 15:24:42.768575+00 by: jeff

I've been flying SWA nearly exclusively for about 5 years and haven't looked back. By far the best carrier out there for the money.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-27 20:32:02.11782+00 by: ebradway

SWA just expanded at Denver International. I usually fly Frontier because they are local. They, like SWA, only fly one aircraft. Unlike SWA, they offer tiered ticket pricing that actually gives a discount for not checking bags. Granted, this isn't the best comparison, but I'm flying to SFO Monday. On Frontier, right now, without checked bags, it's $246.69, with two checked bags and extra perks like free in-flight TV, drinks and a snack plus a 50% frequent flyer bonus, it's $261.70. Southwest is $251.

But the charging for checked bags is, overall, a loser. I've talked to the boarding agents about it. Supposedly, if they have to tag and check your bag at the gate, they are supposed to charge you. But they know they'll have a revolt on their hands and ultimately a very late departure if they ever do. As a frequent traveler, I transitioned from a carry-on-only guy to always checking through. I prefer to be the last on the plane and the first off. That means there's never any room in the overheads, especially near the front of the plane.

Knock on wood - I've never had my bags "lost" or even late. But maybe that's due to Denver's awesome baggage handling system.

Another point: SWA will quickly gobble up a lot of Federal Government business. I normally travel for the government. The airfare I pay (or rather, my projects pay), are based on a quarterly bidding process that the airlines participate in. The Government will say "we need 1000 seats between Denver and San Francisco the next quarter" with the lowest bidder taking all. However, the lowest bid has to be fully refundable tickets that include baggage. In the example I mentioned above, that $10 difference between Frontier and SWA will mean SWA will get the contract.

FYI: SWA also just started flying direct from Denver to Dulles. United currently rapes the federal government to the tune of almost $1000 for a single round-trip ticket from Denver to Dulles. I usually fly into National on Frontier and rent a car to get out to USGS HQ, which is about 2 miles from Dulles. The Frontier flight plus the rental car is usually $400 cheaper than the United flight.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-28 12:54:16.039841+00 by: meuon

Patagonia MLC -"Maximum Legal Carry On" Well made, soft sides, and even fits well in the small island hopper planes overhead/under seat bins. With some good quality travel shirts and "cheap" hotel laundry service, I can live out of this small bag, and when changing planes a lot in these places, you don't check luggage. A lot of time, there is no "luggage check" at all.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-28 16:04:15.196006+00 by: ebradway

A friend of mine used to pack one change of clothes in his laptop bag and just have the hotel launder the other change every night. If I were traveling to more exotic locations, I'd trim it back down to a small carry-on. But I generally travel from Denver to another major city, direct.