Alaska Airlines Raises Checked Bag Fees

In late August JetBlue raised many of their fees, including checked bag fees. Among other changes, they raised the cost of a first checked bag on a domestic itinerary from $25 to $30. Not surprisingly, United, American, and Delta, all followed pretty quickly.

It looks like a fifth US airline will now be raising checked bag fees. Alaska Airlines has announced that they’ll be increasing checked bag fees for tickets purchased or last exchanged as of December 5, 2018.

Here’s a chart with Alaska’s new baggage fees:

With these changes, we’re seeing the cost of a first checked bag increased by $5 (from $25 to $30), the cost of a second checked bag increased by $15 (from $25 to $40), and the cost of a third checked bag increased by $25 (from $75 to $100).

I’m not surprised to see Alaska following the lead of other airlines, though it is interesting how they waited a while to announce it, and are even giving significant notice (while in the case of other airlines the new policy was instituted effective immediately).

Alaska Airlines has a problem right now. The airline used to be a favorite on Wall Street, but since their takeover of Virgin America, Alaska’s stock hasn’t been doing great. The issue probably isn’t just the questionable/expensive takeover, but the fact that Alaska Airlines tries to have a backbone, and unfortunately that often doesn’t pay.

While American, Delta, and United have been generating all kinds of money through fees, Alaska Airlines has avoided introducing basic economy, and has even had significantly more reasonable change fees. The airline wants to do the “right” thing, but unfortunately that doesn’t always pay off.

As of this June, the airline increased change and cancelation fees on many types of tickets, which is a sad move that’s still not surprising. The airline has indicated that they plan to introduce new “saver fares” soon, which would probably be similar to basic economy.

Bottom line

It’s not surprising to see Alaska follow other airlines when it comes to these changes. It’s sad that this is the case, but the reality seems to be that trying to run a “good” airline just often isn’t as profitable as running a Scott Kirby-esque airline. Sad!

Comments

  1. Just make the baggage fees the same price as the ticket and call it a day, as long as your ticket is over $100. I mean, these airlines are ridiculous.

  2. I actuallly travel with Alaska Airline and enjoyed the trip because the comfort in it was amazing and if someone asked me i will surely suggest them to just go once with it and have the best experience!!

  3. > The issue probably is […] the fact that Alaska Airlines tries to have a backbone, and unfortunately that often doesn’t pay

    It pays handsomely to have a backbone against Wall Street. Southwest has been pressured by the so-called analysts to introduce fees forever, and has been the best performing U.S. airline exactly because they didn’t (they’ve snubbed analysts in many other areas too, and in general never follow what they say). United was pressured last year not to add capacity to their hubs, but their profits just increased because they had a backbone and did what was right, not what Wall Street analysts told them to. But JetBlue, a former darling, did follow Wall Street (fees, etc.) and now is no longer doing as great.

  4. Brad Tilden is ruining a once special airline, and the Board just sits and watches it happen. Pathetic leadership, bad decision-making.

  5. I’m literaly disgusted by this Alaska’s whole point is to be different not make everyone say thousands of fees and this is coming from a mvp member who gets two free bags cuz it’s not the money it’s the principle

  6. Southwest has the highest profit margin among US airlines, and is almost double the next best (Delta) even with refundable fares, free bags and no seat assignment fees. Play the long game, airlines. There’s a reason Southwest is a lot more profitable than y’all.

  7. Southwest can afford free bags and no change fees
    when a mileage redemption is 30,000 one way on a wanna fare
    with no seat assignment and no lounge to access.No bargains there typically
    Which I recently walked away from when I saw their crazy high redemption cost
    Granted they have their sweet spots to 3000 miles from Southern Cali to Vegas
    I booked the same flight on American for 12,500
    I got lucky as American stinks typically with saver award availability.

    I give Southwest seats away as gifts every year to family and friends rarely ever stepping on one of their planes.Good way to unload my Chase Reserve points
    Alaska is simply the greatest airline I have ever done business with in my lifetime in any country and they are typically happy to break rules for elites
    I have lifetime status at both United and American yet i earn mine annually at Alaska I think that says it all!
    The down side with Alaska is that even with their merger they don’t have enough routes and there are numerous and extreme limitations to the crumbs they get from partner airlines to redeem miles
    In some ways due to those limitations if Alaska wasn’t great to their customers I couldn’t see sticking around despite how nicely they treat me on or off their planes
    They don’t allow InterEuropean flights on BA for redemption unless starting in In America
    and that’s if they get any inventory.
    The major alliances keep the majority of seats for themselves
    You also can not mix American and BA flights on the same tickets so while the redemption may be lower up front once you add on extra legs the redemption cost is as high or higher than any other program

    I keep my business at Alaska primarily because they take amazing care of the customer and when they can they upgrade you for free as an elite they do no games
    Even better no change fees for Gold and 75 k
    Alaska Rocks even in a horrible era of rip off airlines and abusive uncivilized behavior

  8. @dwondermeant

    Southwest points are tied to cash value, similar to JetBlue. So flights where all the WGA fares are gone are going to be hideously expensive, similar to AA if you can’t get sAAver space. The difference is that Southwest charges you zero, zip, zilch, nada if you decide to cancel the flight and just gives you all the points back, even if you’re a no-status peon like me.

    You won’t get the crazy “value” redemptions like you will with last minute AA/UA flights, or on international J awards, but they’ll get you to most places in the US with a smile and in a timely manner. Their awards can be decent value as well, as for 28k RR points I took myself and my parents from ATL to DEN for a short ski trip, so about 9k RR points per person for the round trip.

    Quick boarding process, no bag fees, no change fees, no basic economy BS, and friendly agents and crews are why I prefer them over any other US domestic airline. Lounge access isn’t a huge thing in domestic travel either, since most domestic lounges suck other than Centurion lounges. Credit where credit is due though, I liked Alaska’s main SEA lounge for their local craft beer offerings. But since I’ve been to SEA all of once, Priority Pass has been my jam with the rising trend of airport restaurant credits through the membership instead of going to traditional overcrowded lounges.

  9. Alaska is caught between a rock and a hard place right now in terms of product. The only two things they have working in their favor are a generous FF program and good customer service when things go wrong. They don’t have the premium product or perks of jetBlue or the consumer friendly policies of Southwest, and lack the route network and perks of the legacies.

    ( And while their FF program is great for us travel hackers, for the average person who isn’t taking a fancy trip to Tokyo or Bangkok it’s actually kind of frustrating when you’re sometimes stuck at 40k to redeem a one-way economy ticket. )

  10. @Alpha You nailed it. The FF plan is great for people who can figure out redemptions like a stopover in Asia with Cathay Pacific. But in the US on Alaska metal – tied to the cash ticket price, penny a point or worse (and without the great FF plan sales that Delta sometimes offers). As soon as Tilden runs his wrecking ball through the partner redemption rates and policies there will be no reason left to accumulate Alaska points.

  11. For premium and elite passengers, Alaska has the stingiest baggage policy of all US carriers. While DL, AA, and UA all allow 70lb for elite members and passengers in first class, AS sticks to a ridiculous 50lb limit.

    On my last PDX-LAX flight I got a big lecture about my bag weighing 52lbs and how they would do an exception only this one time, blah blah blah. I was ticketed in First Class and am an MVP member. After this I vowed never to fly AS again when checking bags because there are better options; AS is simply uncompetitive in this area.

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