Another day, another new airline fee.
Some airlines are planning to add fees for the first checked bag on transatlantic flights. While fees for checked bags have quickly become standard on domestic flights, international routes have so far have been spared. But travelers should expect that to change. The fee goes hand in hand with the expansion of basic economy tickets, which don't include any “extras” — like seat assignments.
Beginning in April of next year, Delta will charge a $50 fee for the first checked bag for passengers with a basic economy ticket on transatlantic flights. A second checked bag will cost an extra $100.
Air France KLM will do the same on transatlantic flights in April, according to Business Traveller, except they refer to basic economy fares as “hand baggage only,” or HBO (premium cable subscription not included).
On Delta, passengers who are booked with Main Cabin or Comfort+ tickets will still be able to check their first bag for free.
The new fee will make it even more important to check restrictions on a ticket before purchasing, and to weigh your specific travel needs: Will you be checking a bag? Consider a ticket upgrade. Are you ok with roughing it in exchange for some savings? Double down on your carry-on packing skills.
Of course, Delta and Air France KLM aren’t the only airlines adding fees for customers who purchase the cheapest fare. Following the success of ultra low-cost carriers like Norwegian and WOW Air, many legacy airlines have introduced stripped-down tickets that are cheap upfront, but come with extra fees for seat assignments, checked bags, and even for a carry-on bag.
Airlines have touted these tickets as providing more choice for passengers who travel extremely light and don’t mind where they sit. However, airlines won't mind if you end up buying the more expensive ticket.
“Really the success of that product isn't how many people buy it, in our mind, but how many people don't buy it and choose another product,” Delta President Glen Hauenstein said in an investor’s meeting, as reported by CNBC.
Every person is a little different in the way they'd like to travel. If you’re price-conscious, you'll want to check if your cheap ticket is actually cheap.