Travel light or pay: Do baggage fees bug you?

Michelle Singletary
Columnist August 8, 2013

An airline passenger on Delta ditched four of his seven bags after the carrier wanted to charge him $1,400 in baggage fees, reported Jay Blackman and Harriet Baskas of NBC News.

The unidentified man, traveling from Seattle to New York, just left his bags near the check-in counter and went on his merry way. Of course the bag dumping caused a ruckus when security was called to make sure the luggage didn’t contain any explosives.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.” View Archive

In addition to the fees for extra bags, Delta adds on a $100 fee for bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds and $200 for bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds.

It seems Delta reigns supreme in the baggage fee department. A report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that U.S. airlines collected nearly $3.5 billion in baggage fees from passengers in 2012, up from $3.48 billion in 2011, according to Yahoo.com. Delta has been at the top of the list since 2009. The airline collected $191 million in baggage fees in the first quarter of this year.

Color of Money Question of the Week

Need to vent about vacation costs? This week’s Color of Money Question: What fees bug you the most when traveling? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Travel Light Or Pay” in the subject line. Please include your full name, city and state. You can also tweet your response to @SingletaryM #moneyquest.

Live Online Chat Today

Join me today live at noon Eastern for my weekly personal finance chat.

My guest will be Jeffrey J. Selingo, author of “College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students.”

Selingo’s book was July’s Color of Money Book Club pick.

If you can’t join me live, you can send your questions in early.

I’m Back

Kids are staying at home longer than ever before, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, “A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ Home,” by Richard Fry.

The study’s findings show that in 2007, when the Great Recession began, 32 percent or 18.5 million of millennials—defined as 18- to 31-year olds— were staying with their parents. Today, it is 36 percent, or 21.6 million, the highest percentage in four decades.

The influx in young adults moving back home is attributed to three factors: declining employment, rising college enrollment and declining marriage, according to the report.

“You’re much less likely to be living with your mom and/or dad if you have a job, and job-holding still hasn’t picked up,” said Fry to CNBC’s Kelli B. Grant.

If your adult child has moved back home, should you charge rent? Should they contribute to expenses?

I think it depends.

If your child has student loan debt, don’t charge rent but rather encourage the young adult to pay down the debt while living at home.

But if your child is treating your home as if it’s a hotel, make him or her contribute financially to the household by paying rent and a fair share of other expenses.

Certified financial planner Sheryl Garrett, founder of The Garrett Planning Network, said parents should set perimeters.

“Kids could be there forever if you don’t charge them some rent and make them do some chores,” Garrett told Grant. “Adult children who can’t find a job outside the home should be asked to contribute with duties in the household.”

Beefing Up Your Résumé

An out-of-work Delaware lawyer thought it would be a good idea to sent out an e-mail to prospective employers and attach a photo of his beefy biceps.

So for last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “What do you think of the social media blunders job applicants and employees are making?”

Facebook friend Zelma Martin Cannady said she wouldn’t use a risqué picture to gain attention.

“..I want to be hired for my brains and not my body because when the body goes...then what? LOL!”

On-The-Job Frustrations

If you’ve got a job, it’s likely you are suffering with some foolishness.

Annoying co-workers are the biggest source of stress, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, reports Catey Hill of Marketwatch.

“Those colleagues who talk too much, share too much personal information, gossip often or blame others for their failures are among the most stress-inducing,” career coach Marc Dorio tells Hill.

“Workplace gossip is common at all levels of the organizational hierarchy,” Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert wrote in their study, “Have You Heard?: How Gossip Flows Through Workplace Email.” In the research, the authors wrote that gossip appears as often in personal exchanges as it does in formal business communication.

Workers often don’t take steps to address their on-the-job stress and that’s a costly mistake Hill points out, writing that employees who report high levels of stress spend nearly 50 percent more on health care each year than their more-relaxed peers.

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or singletarym@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness.com.

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