bag fees

No fee to check 1st bag on Alaska Airlines – for 1 month

alaska tag

Here’s a nice gift for travelers to kick off 2015: Alaska Airlines is waiving its $25 first-bag fee – for the month of January.

To take advantage of the offer, passengers must be a member of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan, but anyone not yet a member can easily sign up for free online or at the airport before they check their bags.

There are some rules and conditions accompanying this offer:

The promotion is good on flights between 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1 through 11:59 p.m. Jan. 31, 2015 and will apply to Mileage Plan members and their companions if they are traveling on the same reservation.

Also, all flight miles must be credited to Alaska’s Mileage Plan to qualify.

For those who haven’t checked bags on Alaska Airlines before (or in a while), there’s another checked-baggage benefit to keep in mind: the carrier’s baggage service guarantee promises that if a checked bag doesn’t reach baggage claim within 20 minutes of the plane’s arrival at the gate, the passenger is entitled to a $25 discount for use on a future Alaska Airlines flight or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.

Pay for carry-on bags? We’ll see about that.

We all knew this was coming – someday – right?

Spirit Airlines announced that, come August 1st, you’ll need to pay a fee (up to $45 if you wait until the last minute) to stow a bag, a box, or that container holding our uncle’s cremains in the overhead bin.

The alternatives?  Check your bags (there’s a fee for that as well) or tote less.  Or, as many of the 45,000 people who voted so far in the on-line survey vow to do, fly a different airline.  “Enough is enough,” wrote one voter. “They must think we’re idiots,” said another.

For their part, Spirit Airlines claims that by unbundling this fee, passengers might save money.

Given the fact that Spirit adds fees for just about everything else, the potential to save money by traveling with no luggage is highly disputed.  But the airline also suggests that charging for carry-ons will reduce boarding hassles.  Spirit Airlines COO Ken McKenzie claims the new charge “will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve in-flight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process, all of which ultimately improve the overall customer experience.”

We’ll see about that.  And, of course, we probably only have to wait until about, oh, August 2nd, to find out if other airlines will follow Spirit’s lead.  It’s a good bet.  We were all shocked when airlines started charging for checked bags and snacks but now, as my mother used to say about things far worse than that, it’s all just part of the game.

To add your vote to the carry-on bag survey, to read my column on the topic, and to see all sorts of videos and other reporting on this topic, see Unbundled baggage fees reach the overhead bin.