In order to milk more money out of their customers, some budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier have raised the prices of their baggage fees. The increases in fees will go into effect ahead of some of the busiest travel times of the year. The fees will range anywhere between $2 and $10 per bag, depending upon the airline.
Low-cost flier Frontier Airlines announced earlier this week that it would raise baggage prices by $5 to $10 during popular travel periods. Their increased baggage fees for the holiday season will last from November 19th through January 5th. The airline also plans to institute similar increases during popular travel periods next spring and summer.
This year, travel analysts are expecting more than 25 million American passengers to fly during the 12 day Thanksgiving travel period. This is the highest number since 2007. The airlines know that people need to fly during this critical period of time, and they don’t expect increased baggage fees to deter demand in the slightest bit.
These budget airlines typically attract customers with incredibly low seat prices, but then stick the customers with high fees for everything from a carry-on bags to a can of soda. Still, many people choose these budget fliers after initially being impressed by the low advertised rates.
However, some people feel as though that raising the baggage fees during this important flying period is unethical and that it is a form of price-gouging. United States Senator Bill Nelson has been outspoken with his criticisms of the policies.
The Florida Democrat wrote in a letter to airline CEOs, “These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families.”
Frontier Airlines has tried to deny any wrongdoing. The flier recently claimed that these baggage fees for the holiday season are normal prices, and lower fees at other times of the year are simply “value season pricing”.
Frontier president Barry Biffle said, “This idea that Frontier is actually ripping people off at the holidays, nothing could be further from the truth. We encourage consumers to look at the total price. That’s all that matters.”
Meanwhile, former airline executive Jay Sorensen says that the practice is simple supply and demand.
Sorensen said, “It’s classic supply-and-demand pricing. When it’s peak demand, a company has the right to charge more. Yes, if someone is really upset with bag fees, then you should go with Southwest.”
Additionally, airlines are also experimenting with new pricing methods that would charge customers more money for more desirable seats, such as an aisle seat near the front of the plane. Frontier is actually starting to “bundle” seat selections with baggage fees in order to “save” their customers money. They’re also making money by charging to make tickets refundable.
Really, all of it is a classic move from the airlines, who will do anything to shake extra money from their customer’s pockets.