Thursday, March 08, 2007

Airlines Restricting Free Checked Baggage Limits

This morning's inbox brought an alert from a friend in Australia who is planning to travel to France this summer. She'd just read an article in her local media about a firm now offering to deliver travellers' luggage. The idea is that you contract this firm to pick up and transport your luggage for you, and have it waiting for you at your destination. This is supposed to save you the hassle of actually taking your bags to the airport, checking them in and then reclaiming them. Theoreticially, this service also lessens the likelihood of lost bags enroute.

Such luggage delivery services have been offered in North America (and likely elsewhere) for some time now. And while these delivery fees seem high to budget / economy travelers such as myself, I suppose this convenience might have an appeal for some.

But what set off the money alarms is this part: ". . . if you fly with
a major Australian airline with a 32kg bag in economy, where luggage restriction is now a mandated 20kg, you could be up for an extra $576 [AUD] in excess fees." Now, if you added the value of my bag and its contents, and tossed in a hundred dollar bill, it wouldn't amount to $576, so you can imagine my concern.

Apparently, British Airways made recent changes (Feb. 13, 2007) to free checked baggage limits. The British Airways site clearly shows fees and limits, and the effective date(s) for implementation, and the exceptions.

QANTAS (the 'major Australian airline'?), too, is changing its bag limits (see QANTAS) Call me blind, but I couldn't see any effective date for the QANTAS fees and limits, so I cannot tell if this is a recent change or not.

For friends in Ethiopia (who usually fly BA on annual trips to Canada, and who are on a non profit budget and use these annual repatriation trips to stock up on items not available there), these additional fees could be a real concern.

Seasoned travelers to destinations such as Canada's north or Puerto Montt, Chile know that flights are handled by smaller planes, meaning lower baggage limits, and so pack accordingly, but others might find themselves facing hefty fees.

My best advice to those planning to fly, as always, is to travel light. (See the Travel Tips section). And no matter where you are traveling, or what carrier you are using, please make extra sure that you fully understand the baggage allowances and fees.
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