Many of the major airlines have raised (or plan to raise) their checked baggage fees, but you can "save" a little money and avoid these new fees with most of the airlines by paying these fees ahead of time on-line
Most travelers by now are quite familiar with the fees that most major airlines charge for checked bags. While generally these fees are waived for travelers who have achieved certain levels of "status" in an airline's frequent flier program, for those that have purchased first or business class tickets, and for those who are traveling internationally, many domestic economy class travelers are still faced with these fees daily. A byproduct of these fees is that now it tends to take longer to board planes since passengers take more carry-on luggage, and the in-cabin storage space is often filled, causing travelers to have to check their bags once they are already on the plane. The paying of these fees has also increased the wait time for airport check-in. Lately, some of the major airlines have raised their fees even higher, although most who have done this allow passengers who prepay these fees on-line to "save" the new surcharge by paying a slightly lower fee.
American Airlines is now joining the other airlines, and raising its fees for checked bags for passengers with tickets purchased on or after August 14, 2009. The fees change from:
1st Checked Bag Charge $15 to $20
2nd Checked Bag Charge $25 to $30
And you don't get any break if you prepay the fees on-line. This may be because American Airlines is one of the few of the major airlines that charge these fees and does not let you pay them ahead of time on-line. Who doesn't love the airport check-in process to take a little longer and cost a little bit more? Thanks, American Airlines!
United and US Airways were the original airlines to raise fees and give a "discount" if the fees were prepaid on-line. Delta, Northwest and Continental have also implemented a similar policy. Southwest and JetBlue still do not charge for 1st checked bag, and Southwest does not charge for the second as well. AirTran Airways and Frontier allow paying checked bag fees online, but do not give a "discount" for doing so, but also have not raised their checked baggage fees at this time. Remember, there are also significant fees for excess, oversize and overweight baggage, so it is important to plan accordingly to avoid these fees.
The following is a list of the major US Airlines, links to their checked baggage policies and information on paying checked bag fees in advance online (as of July 28, 2009):
note: most airlines do not allow online check-in more than 24 hours or less than 90 minutes prior to departure. Certain passengers are exempt from fees - generally these include members that have reached a certain status in an airline's frequent flier program, active duty military personnel, and passengers purchasing business class or first class tickets. Remember, there are also fees for oversize and overweight baggage, and excess baggage, and most people are not exempt from these. Please note that to most of the airlines, a "Domestic" flight is one that is within the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and possibly Canada, some destinations that people might consider "International", so be sure to check with your airline for specific policies. These fees and policies change frequently, so please check with your airline for the most up to date information.
AirTran Airways: Checked baggage fees may be paid online during online check-in within 24 hours of your flight. No discount is given for paying fees online. (AirTran Airways checked baggage policies)
American Airlines: No online checked bag fee payment options are available. Checked baggage fees have increased for passengers with tickets purchased on or after August 14, 2009 by $5 on the first and second checked bag. There is no current charge for a first or second checked bag on international flights (with the exception of flights within the U.S., Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands). (American Airlines Checked Bag Allowances and Fees )
Continental Airlines: Credit card information can be entered for checked bag fees during online check-in, but fees are not charged until bags are checked-in at the airport. A $5 discount if given for paying fees online. Checked baggage fees have increased for passengers with tickets purchased on or after July 21, 2009 for travel on or after August 19, 2009. There is also a 2nd bag fee on most international flights within the western hemisphere. (Continental Airlines Checked Baggage Policies)
Delta Airlines: New rules as of January 13, 2010 ** For tickets purchased on/after January 5, 2010 for travel on/after January 12, 2010 for travel in the 50 United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Puerto Rico in Economy Class: The fees are now - 23 USD/CAD* fee, first bag;
32 USD/CAD* fee, second bag.
There will be a 2 USD/CAD* surcharge on the first checked bag, 3 USD/CAD* on second checked bag, when checking in via ticket counter, kiosk, or curbside. **
Checked baggage fees may be paid within 24 hours of your flight during online check-in. Effective on tickets purchased on or after July 16, 2009 for travel on or after August 4, a $5 surcharge will be charged in addition to the checked bag fees on the first and second checked bag if fees are paid at the airport. On international flights between the US and Europe the first checked bag is free, but for tickets purchased on or after May 23, 2009 for travel beginning July 1, 2009 there will be a $50 charge for the second checked bag for economy class passengers. (Delta Airlines Baggage Policies & Delta Airlines Excess Baggage (Oversize, overweight, excess number of bags) Allowances and Fees)
Frontier Airlines: Baggage fees can be paid online, but are non-refundable, so don't pay for more bags than you might bring or for bags that are exempt from fees. No fee is charged for first or second checked bags on international flights. (Frontier Airlines Checked Baggage Policies - Domestic & Frontier Airlines Checked Baggage Policies - International)
JetBlue: When checking in online, passengers can indicate how many bags they are checking, however the checked bag fee must be paid at the airport when checking the bags. (JetBlue Checked Baggage Requirements) note: the first checked bag is free on JetBlue
Northwest Airlines: Baggage fees may be paid online during online check-in. Your credit card is not charged until your baggage tags are printed at the airport, so you can change your number of checked bags prior to that time. Effective for tickets purchased on or after July 16, 2009, for travel on or after August 4, 2009, customers traveling domestically (within the U.S./Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands ) who pay their baggage fees at the airport (instead of online) will be charged a $5 surcharge both for the first and second bag. On International flights between the U.S./Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands and Europe, only the first checked bag is free, and on all other International flights two checked bags are free. (Northwest Airlines Checked Baggage Information)
Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines has no first or second checked baggage fee; fees are charged for 3 or more bags and are not payable online. Southwest Airlines Checked Baggage Policies )
United Airlines: Checked baggage fees for up to 5 bags can be paid within 24 hours of your flight via United Airlines Web Check-in Online. Effective for tickets purchased on or after May 14, 2009 for travel on or after June 10, 2009 within the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada there is a $5 surcharge if baggage fees are paid at the airport rather than online. On International flights, the first and second checked bags are still free. (United Airlines Checked Baggage Policies for the US & Canada – United Airlines Checked Baggage Policy for International Travel)
US Airways: You can pay for checked bags when you check-in online – $15 for your first checked bag and $25 for your second for flights within the U.S. and to and from Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. For customers who choose to pay for checked bags at the airport, there will be an additional $5 service fee per bag. Passengers traveling to and from Europe and Asia can check two bags free. (US Airways Checked Baggage Policies)
Remember, if you eXpect delaYs, you can beat them, and paying your luggage fees online and being aware of luggage quantity, size and weight restrictions and additional fees will save you a significant amount of time, trouble and money.