Alaska Switches Up Bag Fees, Some Good and Some Bad News

Whenever I see discussion of an airline simplifying fees, it usually means that they’re jacking them up. Alaska, well, ok, so they are jacking up the first bag fee, but they really are simplifying as well. They had a slew of announcements Alaska's Bag Fee Changeyesterday, so maybe they were hoping some of this would get buried. Nope.

At left, you can see my handy chart. Basically they’re raising the $15 first bag fee to $20 and then lowering all the other fees for bags #2 and beyond. It does simplify things, and it’s nice to see them stop requiring your first born to check that fourth bag. That one was just really messy to collect.

So why are they doing this? I think it’s a safe bet that they expect to make more money. Let’s assume that a lot more people check a first bag then a second or third or fourth. That increase on the first bag fee will pay off, but it will be partially tempered by the decrease on later bags. Or will it? This could be a test to see if lower bag fees will result in more bags being checked. I suppose we’ll know the answer to that if this policy holds or if it ends up changing. Besides it seems like Alaska hates to raise a fee without giving something in return. I give them credit for that, but I’m not so sure I’m buying it this time.

The first bag fee going up by $5 doesn’t really bug me. It’s actually still lower than the $25 other airlines charge. And I suppose it’s nice that they brought the bag fees down for more than 1 checked bag, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever checked more than one bag in my life. But wait, there’s more.

Remember how Alaska had a baggage guarantee? They were the only ones to institute one when they added a charge for checked bags. If your bags weren’t at the carousel within 25 minutes, you were entitled to either 2,500 miles or a $25 credit for a future flight. With this new baggage structure, that’s changing. Anyone want to guess what’s happening?

That’s right. You’ll now get a 20 minute guarantee instead of 25 (who cares?), and you’ll get a $20 credit or 2,000 miles. They really like the number 20, I guess. Anyone skilled with numerology know if there’s some secret meaning here?

So where does this all leave us? Um, well, it’ll be different for everyone. There’s some good, some bad, and some that just doesn’t even matter. Hooray, that means there’s something for everyone!

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