Coming & Going: Higher luggage fees and family-only seating

Friday, August 27, 2010; 12:39 PM

Check in, pay up

Attention AirTran Airways passengers: Starting Sept. 1, checking your luggage will cost you more.

For passengers who made reservations in coach after Aug. 16, the fee for the first checked bag will rise from $15 to $20. The price for checking a second bag will remain $25.

"It's a result of the sustained, significant increase in the cost of jet fuel," said AirTran spokesman Christopher White. He said that the per-gallon cost of jet fuel increased 37.2 percent from the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of this year.

AirTran is not alone in raising baggage fees. Virgin America, Delta and Continental, among others, have all done the same in the past year. AirTran's fee increase "puts us in line with the industry standard," White said.

In fact, AirTran's baggage fees are actually lower than those of most airlines. Delta, for instance, charges $23 for the first bag checked online ($25 at the airport) and $32 for the second bag checked online ($35 at the airport).

JetBlue Airways and Southwest have bucked the baggage fee trend, allowing one and two free checked bags, respectively.

No babies on board

Would you want to sit next to a crying baby on an airplane?

Skyscanner, a travel search site that compares airline ticket prices, posed that question to more than 2,000 people after one Florida woman sued Quantas Airlines, claiming that a screaming baby on board a flight from Australia made her ears bleed. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents said that they would prefer a "families only" section onboard flights.

Not surprisingly, non-parents liked the idea more, with 68 percent voting in favor. Almost a quarter of non-parents went so far as to say that they'd prefer completely child-free flights.

Fewer than one-third of parents were in favor of a families-only section. And ironically, 45 percent of parents said that they didn't want a families-only section because they didn't want to sit next to "other people's horrors."

Mary Porter, Skyscanner's public relations manager, offered a not-so-novel solution to the problem. You guessed it: a new fee.

"If passengers are prepared to pay extra for child-free flying, perhaps the solution is a premium adults-only section, rather than a pre-allocated families section, giving airlines yet another extra they can charge for," she said. "I am sure this service would prove to be really popular on routes that attract a lot of families, such as flights to Florida."

Reporting: Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071


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