There was a mutiny on a Ryanair flight this weekend over baggage fees — and the kerfuffle has gotten some widespread support in the travel press. Ryanair, a major discount air carrier in Europe, is known to offer some great airfare deals (think $20 each way) to hop country to country — but charges fees for everything. Even using the loo. So of course, in line with U.S. carriers, it also charges the dreaded baggage check fee — and that’s where the mutiny began.
Now, I’ll admit something here — I’ve a couple of times avoided the fees charged by Spirit, US Airways, AirTran, etc. etc. My pocketbook avoided the hit because I had the full intention of carrying my bag onboard with me only to find that EVERYONE on the plane has done the same. This necessitated a checked bag, but magically no fee. And no, I don’t feel guilty.
In fact, checked bag and related fees netted $6 billion for US air carriers in the first 9 months of 2010, federal statistics show.
Now, several airlines — including Spirit — are experimenting with the carry on bag fees, too. Spirit is charging $45 per bag, which boggles my mind. I need two bags to make it though an average day in New York City. Unless you have the most spacious pants pockets in the world, the airline has got you where it wants you — shelling out cash for something you just can’t avoid. The LA Times had an amusing take on what might be next.
To this, I say –enough. I say mutiny. Though I understand that some fees are inevitable given current fuel costs, airfare prices are not so low that it requires all these other efforts to nickel and dime us consumers. The passenger rights group AAPR has a petition about this…if you feel strongly, sign. Oh, and shop around for your airfares keeping these new $$ in mind. Many times, by the time you factor in all the fees, you’re paying just as much as you would on another carrier.