Sunday, January 24, 2010

Avoiding airline baggage fees

The nation's airlines are looking for more ways to get in your pocket. The latest effort by Delta and Continental involves raising baggage fees to the point that they may exceed some tickets!

The first checked bag will be $25 ($23 if you do it online) and the second somewhere in the $30 range depending on airline.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, still has no baggage fees. Nor will this discount airline charge you to change a trip once you've booked. Perhaps that's why Southwest keeps gaining more market share while the full-fare airlines watch their shares shrink.

Think Southwest is crazy? Well, they must be crazy like a fox. Customers who may be on the cusp about taking a trip are probably more likely to book because they know they won't get hit with a fee to change a ticket.

Nobody knows if Southwest will continue with no baggage fees, but it certainly has made for some strong imaging for them. You can see their "no baggage fees" commercials on constant rotation during the NFL playoff games.

But what if Southwest doesn't serve the markets you need? There's still one way to avoid baggage fees on the full-fare airlines: Don't check a bag!
Just be sure you follow the carry-on rules of your airline to the letter.

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