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Baggage Fees: Get used to them

Passenger satisfaction, fees on the rise

You've heard that story of the frog placed in tepid water that's slowly heated to the boiling point. Because the increase is so gradual, the frog is never uncomfortable. That seems to be increasingly the case with baggage fees and other ancillary charges by airlines.

J.D. Power’s 2013 North America Airline Satisfaction Study released May 14 gauged passenger satisfaction with North America airline carriers based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost & fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservation.

The survey said that baggage fees continue to be a source of passenger dissatisfaction and to lead to lower satisfaction levels. The impact however is not as strong as in the past, suggesting that passengers are either giving up or giving in to an onslaught of “ancillary” or “unbundled” bag fees as a necessary evil. Frontier and Spirit Airlines both currently charge passengers for carry-on bags that can’t be put in the seat in front. Frontier’s charge of up to $100 is passed on to passengers who don’t book on the airline’s website. Spirit currently charges $100 for passengers hauling carry-ons at the gate and upwards of $35 for passengers who book and pay for it before boarding.

“Charging for bags still has a pronounced negative impact on passenger satisfaction, but with each year, passengers are increasingly more accepting of carriers unbundling baggage and other fees,” said Ramez Faza, senior manager of the travel practice at J.D. Power & Associates.


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