Leisure travel isn’t just vacation, it’s also “visiting friends and relatives” or ‘VFR’ for short. And those passengers tend to check a lot of luggage. What’s more, the mix of passengers traveling has changed. Business travelers don’t tend to check nearly as much luggage. So the same number of passengers as before on a plane comes with more luggage now than it used to.
American Airlines has adjusted some baggage fees in the Mexico, Caribbean, and Latin America market, perhaps most notably increasing third checked bag fees to $200. In the process I even learned something new, that the Cuban government requires airlines to offer two checked bags free on departures from the country.
Some things to keep in mind when you see higher baggage fees now,
- There’s limited baggage space on board an aircraft. Higher fees ration that space. Faced with more expensive baggage fees, people will consolidate items or bring less with them.
- Carrying more luggage burns fuel. It’s expensive to transport bags, not just passengers.
- Where fares are low, ancillary fees help make up for these losses. Even though leisure fares are rising as travel demand returns, business demand remains depressed so average fares lag overall.