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June 12, 2008

Luggage Fees: Watch the Deals...and Your Wallet

Luggage Fees
Reaching for a refund.
AP Photo

by Barbara S. Peterson

However you may feel about the new luggage fees for airline passengers, it didn't take long for some savvy hotelier to smell a business opportunity. Loews and Kimpton have both announced they will reimburse guests who can provide proof they paid an airline a fee to check a bag. Most airlines are charging between $20 and $25 for a second bag, but American has announced that all bags will be subject to a fee. Starting June 15, even your first bag will set you back $15.

Speaking of which, I've been hearing some disturbing reports about fliers forking over the $15 fee before it goes into effect; apparently some unscrupulous skycaps or airport curbside workers are taking advantage of the confusion and pocketing the dough as an unintended tip. An American spokesman said that the company was unaware of any problems with passengers paying the fee prematurely.  The previous $2 per bag fee for checking luggage curbside will be rescinded, however, since it is now considered part of the new $15 fee, he added.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of exceptions to the new fees. For example, international and full-fare fliers are exempt, and so are various strata of frequent flier mileage holders. So don't hand over any money to check your bag unless you've first checked the rules.

Meanwhile, the fee fad is spreading: American is raising the price of onboard drinks from $5 to $6, and US Airways is no longer dispensing free snacks on domestic flights.

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