Expect even more overcrowding in your flight’s overhead bins with Delta’s announcement today that it has increased the fee for the first check bag by 20 percent. Matching JetBlue and United, which have both raised bag fees in the last month, the first checked bag will now cost $30 (up from $25) and the second bag will cost $40 (up from $35).
If your organization pays the fee for, say, everyone on a 100-person incentive travel program to check one bag, your costs have just gone from $2,500 to $3,000.
American Airlines hasn’t yet joined in—the first bag remains at $25 and the second at $35—but some discount airlines like Spirit had already climbed to the $30 fee.
Southwest remains the only major carrier that still doesn’t charge bag fees. Every flyer can check two bags for free as long as each is less than 50 pounds. Besides flying Southwest, here are a few ideas to help you duck the fee:
• Check the benefits if you’re a member of a frequent-flyer program; some programs allow you to check bags for free.
• Book your trip with an airline-branded credit card; some cards drop the fees.
• Book a first-class or business-class seat; free bags are typically a benefit.
• Try negotiating with the airline’s meeting department.
One quirk with some discount carriers, including Frontier, Spirit, and Sun Country, is that it costs more for a carry-on bag than a checked bag. For example, Sun Country charges $20 for a checked bag on flights to the 48 contiguous states, but $30 for a carry-on on those same flights. And watch out for airlines changing the fee for checked or carry-on bags depending on when you pay for it. At Allegiant Air, for example, it costs $30 for a checked bag if you buy it when you book, $45 pre-departure, and $50 if you wait until you get to the airport.