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!


14 Responses to Alaska Switches Up Bag Fees, Some Good and Some Bad News

  1. Sanjeev M says:

    Don’t underestimate that baggage guarantee.

  2. Since most of where AS flys is along the west coast, those are all quick trips and people really don’t need to check bags. Their Mexico and Hawaii service are places where shorts and t-shirts are the fashion and again you don’t need checked baggage for a weeks vacation.

    Where they rack in the money in baggage fees are to/from/within Alaska. When the locals travel they do a lot of shopping in the bigger cities ANC, FAI and outside the state where things are cheaper and then pack it all up to go home. Also all those nice 7 day cruises that begin or end in Stewart (for ANC) and those passengers do check bags since they have dressy and casual clothes, plus a good many of passengers on Alaska cruises tend to be older who do check bags normally.

    Maybe the locals in Alaska were not shopping as much or ordering online more so maybe now AS things they will shop more when they travel and check more bags since the 2nd and over bags will be less.

    Who know’s, but as history proves airlines don’t do anything unless it will benefit them.

  3. Jason H says:

    I am a fan of this strategy. It’s simple and easy to understand, the “tiers” are logical, and the guarantee is still in effect. Sure not everyone is going to check bags, but this makes checking bags less of a hassle for both the passengers and the airline as the front line workers don’t have to remember several different fee levels.

    On a note of the bad side Mark Ashley over at Upgrade Travel Better noted that Alaska did end the ability to hold reservations for 24 hours as well.

    • CP says:

      That’s true, but I think they also added in functionality (similar to CO’s) where you can buy a ticket and have 24 hours to either change the ticket without incurring the change fee or cancel the ticket and get a refund. A little more inconvenient, but still a pretty fair policy.

  4. Ryan says:

    @ David SFeastbay, the first 3 checked bags on travel within the state of Alaska are free. This change has nothing to do with Alaska residents who still need to do their shopping in ANC and bring all that stuff back out to the bush. The first 3 bags were always free within the state of Alaska when the first $15 fee was implemented and they are still free with this fee increase.

    In addition to the fee changes, unaccompanied minor fees were dropped from $75 to $25 for a one way direct flight.

  5. Akila says:

    I think the baggage guarantee is fantastic. I had never heard about this before. I’m surprised that there is an airline out there even offering something to its customers if the bag doesn’t arrive on time.

  6. Allan says:

    Alaska is smart to do this and they will make more money. Because they do not fly internationally or that far domestically people are not usually packing a second or third bag. I would bet that an overwhelming majority that do check bags on Alaska check only one. People are going to pack a lot less if they are going from L.A. to Seattle as opposed to L.A. to Frankfurt.

    • Alaska has a pretty good Mexican operation. I wonder how much of their goal is to reduce bag weights. The airlines would much rather have two 35 pound bags rather than a 70 pound bag. I wonder how this looks like with overweight fees included?

  7. Martin J says:

    You asked and it is actually ALL very appropriate. The Number 20 is
    > supposed to represent:
    > “the Devil”, that is to say the material world opposed to the spiritual
    > world ( J. Boehme )
    >
    > The number 20 is considered as ominous for saint Jerome because it indicates
    > the universal fight,
    >
    > This number is represented in Hebrew by the letter Kaph, -an opened hand
    > which seizes and holds.
    >
    >
    > I suspect they only did it to be simple BUT it is fascinating
    > (I don’t actually believe in numerology…the only numbers I count are my
    > status credits and points in frequent flyer schemes!)
    >
    >

  8. Ed Kelty says:

    You’ve never checked a second bag on Alaska Airlines? Did you try to bring the fifty pounds of salmon as a carry-on?

  9. Zach says:

    2nd, or even 3rd bags can be important for people going to play golf, taking skis to go skiing, fishing poles, etc. Those types of things generally require a checked bag, perhaps in addition to a piece of luggage for clothing, etc.

    I support this change, I think.

  10. anyone know the final count on the numbers? i.e total lost revenue, airline with the highest lost recorded, increase in bus/train revenue, companies with the highest increase. anyone heard that scientist on TV that apparently has a device that can predict these? why have we not used it commercially?

  11. Pingback: Why Don’t People Hate Alaska Airlines? - >> The Cranky Flier

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