When fees for check-in luggage were introduced, it led to an increase in carry-on luggage (also called hand luggage or cabin luggage). The obvious problem now is that people try to carry as much as they can into the cabin to avoid these fees, which is a reasonable way to save money, but leads to problems and confrontation when not everyone can get their luggage on board. My recent cross-country trip was overbooked, which meant that not all bags (especially roller bags) would fit and would have to be gate checked (at no fee), which led to upset people. Gate and flight attendants also don’t always enforce the airlines policies for baggage limits, and you have people taking three bags or giant bags that are well above the measurement/weight limits. When they are able to get away with them onto one flight, they feel entitled to be allowed to bring them on every flight.
Would changing the price structure for US carriers help? Right now, it’s around $25 for the first checked bag, another $25-50 for a second checked bag. Carry-on bags are free. I’m ignoring overweight bags for now. I propose a trial period for a new pricing structure:
Carry-on bags: $5 each
Checked bags: $15 for the first, $25 for the second
Airlines should like this because they will get money for every bag, passengers will hate it for the same reason. The discount might encourage passengers to check a bag, which has higher weight limits (check 50lbs vs carry-on 15-25lbs), and also make it seem like they are doing something nice for their customers. For those who are used to checking a bag and had one carry-on, it would now cost $20, cheaper than a single checked bag. Since airlines weigh checked luggage, they will have a better idea of how much cargo they are carrying if more people check a bag. Of course, they are also meant to weigh carry-on luggage, but I have never seen it happen, so who knows how much weight is unaccounted (ignoring the cumulative weight of the passengers themselves).
I understand the hassle of having to wait at the baggage carousel, but if your incentive is to carry more and pay less, would you do it? If you can fit your carry-on bag inside your checked bag (with your other stuff in the extra space), you have that smaller bag at your destination for greater mobility. I’m fortunate to be able to bring everything I need for a month-long trip in carry-on luggage – a duffel bag and maybe a backpack, depending on how many gadgets I want to bring. The second bag means I have no foot space on the plane and more stuff to lose or get stolen. With these new fees, if I couldn’t get away with the single carry-on duffel bag, I would either pay $20 and do what I usually do, or pay $5 more and check a slightly larger duffel bag, that is more durable anyway, bring the backpack on board (you shouldn’t put your valuables in checked baggage), get my foot space back, and wait at baggage claim. I suppose it would depend on how I feel about the specific trip, what I actually need to bring, and whether I have time to wait at baggage claim (I’m not usually in that big of a rush).
I am willing to accept that this is a terrible idea. What do you think? Can you offer any adjustments/modifications to make it a better plan?