Delta, Air France and KLM Introducing Checked Bag Fees on Flights to Europe

Delta was the first airline to offer Basic Economy, and they have five years of experience with it. They haven’t been as draconian as United or American — while they won’t let you have a seat assignment until check-in, you can still bring a full-sized carry on bag onboard with you when buying one of these fares.

They’ve been talking about rolling it out internationally for some time. And now they’ve done it, and it comes with a new restriction.

For tickets purchased December 6 onward, and travel beginning April 10, there will be a first checked bag fee for flights to and from Europe and North Africa on Basic Economy fares.

1st bag fee is $60/50EUR/75CAD
2nd bag fee is $100/85EUR/120CAD

For travel prior to April 10, Basic Economy fares still get first checked bag free. And all other fares do as well, even after April 10. The change applies to Basic Economy only.

On the one hand this is not at all surprising. We’ve known Basic Economy was coming and although Delta hadn’t made clear what that would mean, it seems clear enough that when United and American don’t allow carry on bags on these fares that Delta wouldn’t include a free checked bag.

On the other hand it’s the first time we’ve seen a legacy US airline charge for first checked bag to Europe.

Air France KLM is doing the same thing as of the same dates and Air France’s announcement says that Alitalia, which is part of their anti-trust immunized joint venture across the Atlantic, will as well. So much for purported consumer benefits of allowing airlines to collude on pricing practices.

For Atlanta – Paris, here I’m seeing an extra $120 roundtrip to avoid Basic Economy. A seat assignment restriction may not be enough to get someone to fork over $120. But since a checked bag would cost $120 roundtrip anyway perhaps they figure that’s a buy up bundle they can charge.

As American and United roll out their Basic Economy fares internationally you can expect they’ll follow Delta in short order since they generally believe Delta is smarter than they are.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Looks like they are trying to win the race to the bottom and see who becomes the best LCC. Just one more reason to fly a ME airline.

  2. Vote with your wallets and fly SQ/EK’s European routes. Or Turkish (best European airline). Can’t believe the impossibly short sighted US airline executives would think this would work in the face of international competition.

  3. So if there is no difference between a random LCC and a main line more expensive airline which should I choose? Hmmmmmm.

  4. Great if that comes with a competitive $99 airfare. Somehow they missed that part in their selective reading of WOWs tariffs.
    Vote with your feet- no longer skypesos more like skylira.

  5. Looks like I’m not flying skyteam across the Atlantic anymore. Yes, vote with your wallet people!

  6. If Main Cabin fares were raised $120 round trip, then everyone is effectively paying for a checked bag whether they check one or not.

  7. This is theft, there is no other way to spin this. Capitalism alone has no way to prevent this and actually encourages this type of abusive, rent seeking behavior. One can hope that voting with your wallet can send a message, but we all know from experience that will not happen. Less regulation is not the answer and may even lead to worse abuses of power by the oligopoly because starting and running an equivalent airline doesn’t exactly have a low barrier to entry. Weak anti trust regulation is exactly what led to his in the first place. This is a kind of situation that can only be fixed by strong and specific regulation to ensure that customers have basic common sense protections and rights. We must constantly be regulating the capitalists, because any power they have over us is always used to steal more from us and line their own pockets without offering anything more in return.

  8. Air France KLM and Delta have removed a free checked bag from their base fare to create a new ‘basic economy’, while the current economy becomes a new ‘standard economy’ class, which does include a checked bag. Everything else remains pretty much the same, including free food and booze on board. It seems to me that they have done this so that they can advertise economy prices that compare favourably with the long haul LCCs on price comparison sites. The cost to upgrade from basic economy to standard economy appears to be the same as the cost to buy a checked bag on a basic ticket, which appears to confirms this. There is no price increase/decrease here (at this stage) but it will be interesting to see if this changes over time.

  9. @Mark W, I think you’re right about the strategy, but it tells you something about how dumb they think we are. And they may be right, of course. Now if they actually did have prices comparing favorably to the long haul LCCs, I’d sit up and take notice. Occasionally they do, but they’re obviously going to go with the “Basic Craponomy” gimmick for more than those times and routes. For now it’s just a choice between paying more for the same service (a price increase by any definition) or paying the same for less service (a service downgrade). At the same time the cabal (UA, AA, DL) works hard to limit international carrier competition so that their pricing models can hold.

  10. So I can pay $1200 for DL Economy- and be nickel-and-dimed, or I can pay $400 for WOW or Norwegian, pay for a big seat up front, checked bag, and food, and still come out cheaper and more comfortable on the other end.

    As others have said. Why the hell would I pay more for DL? So I can fly through Atlanta instead of Reykjavik?

  11. Obviously this sucks and I hope it hurts them economically big time to have any bag fee at all. But I also don’t get the steep amount. I live on the east coast so often flying to Europe is around the same distance or a tad less than flying to the west coast. So (assuming the checked bag fee actually has any proportionality or logic) why should I be paying more than double for a similar voyage and amount of fuel they need to burn to carry my luggage. Moreover, with frequent economy fare sales to Europe of $300-$400, a $120 roundtrip fee is just totally out of proportion. Yeah I’m with the others. Just got back from Dubai on Emirates with my 2 free checked bags and 33 inches of legroom, hot towel and 3 decent meals served with real silverware. That was for the lowest possible (~ $550) special economy fare. Thanks Delta for helping make it an easy decision where to spend my money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *