Transatlantic Luggage Fees Take Flight

by  Suzanne Steinert | Sep 18, 2009
Traveler with luggage
Traveler with luggage /

In mid-2008, when airlines across the country began tacking on extraneous fees to compensate for lower ticket sales and spikes in fuel prices (like charging upwards of $25 each way for the first checked bag on domestic flights), they created an uproar among flyers who felt like they were being flown for all they’re worth. Since then, said fees have been evolving exponentially, leaving the days of the all-inclusive ticket price to memory – with no proverbial “ceiling” in sight. Now, the revolution in luggage rates can no longer be contained by borders: late last month, overseas operators American, US Airways, and Continental announced they’ll be applying the checked-bag charges to all transatlantic flights (Delta was the first in July) – with the only straggler, United, finally joining the ranks last week

The good news? So far, anyone flying overseas in economy class can still get by with one checked bag, fee-free. Phew. A second will cost you on average $50 USD (double that for a round trip), however, and if traveling light just isn’t an option, prepare to shell out a full Ben Franklin for each additional packed piece of property (most carriers allow a max of nine). And, of course, overweight (over 50 pounds) or “special” luggage (think golf clubs or skis) will cost you even more (shudder).
For those of us who fly shy of first class (or aren’t on active duty in the armed forces), there are still ways to waive the expense (or some of it). Gate-checking for carry-on sized bags remains free (for now), and most airlines shave off a few dollars for prepaying online. Also, depending on when you've booked your flight and the details of your departure date, you may still be able to check multiple bags and avoid the fees altogether (see your carrier’s official website for more info). 
See Sherman’s Top 10 expert tips on circumnavigating baggage fees.

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