Bag charges and extra fees could leave some grounded

With some airlines starting to charge passengers for a second checked bag — and even more for extra and overweight bags — analysts say air travel is drifting out of reach for people such as Christina Malins, who recently stood under a tower of baggage at the San Francisco International Airport.

“One bag per person would be really, really hard,” she said, struggling with a cart loaded with eight suitcases and a pile of carry-on bags. “I mean, this bag alone is just car seats,”

Malins, her sister and her sister’s three young children were en route to visit her very ill father in New Zealand. The trip cost them $7,000 — one way — the kind of price tag that analysts say is likely to get higher as airlines continue to “unbundle” their fares.

So far, two major airlines that fly through SFO — United Airlines and U.S. Airways — have announced they will begin charging passengers $25 for a second checked bag in May.

They are also among several airlines that have recently upped their charge for oversized and overweight bags. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways have dropped the number of allowed checked bags from three to two, and Delta Air Lines recently joined the pack that charges for curbside check-in.

Airline officials have explained all of these moves by pointing to the $100-a-barrel price of oil. United officials have said it expects to generate $100 million annually bycharging for second bags — largely due to the fuel savings from lighter cargo holds.

The timing of the announcement is no accident, New York airline analyst Bob Harrell said.

“No one ever wants to pay more, but the customer is more psychologically receptive to these things in what they know is a high fuel-cost environment,” he said.

Colorado-based airline analyst Tim Sieber said other carriers are likely to follow suit.

“It’s the direction of the industry, for better or worse,” he said. “Airlines realize more revenue by charging a la carte for services. If they can figure out how to charge for the air on the airplane, they’ll do it.”

kworth@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read