21 September 2008

Air Canada sheds unpopular fee for 2nd bag

Crude-oil prices were rising into outer space this summer when the airlines started adding fees for checked baggage.

Now that oil prices are dropping back to earth a bit, at least one airline — Air Canada — announced it's eliminating the $25 fee it charges for a second piece of baggage. Air Canada had never charged for the first checked bag, a practice at many U.S. carriers, including Northwest Airlines.

Will other airlines follow Air Canada's lead? "With oil prices coming down, customers don't want to be nickeled and dimed," said Vaughn Cordle, an analyst with airlineforecasts.com.

Southwest Airlines also is stoking consumer ire, Cordle noted. It's touting its no-baggage fee policy in TV ads, including one spot featuring rejoicing passengers singing "hallelujah!"

The nickel and diming adds up, however. Northwest started charging $15 for first checked bags in late August and said it took in $370,000 on Aug. 31 alone. Annualized, the airline expects to collect up to $200 million.

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