Delta’s baggage fees are really too low & should go up?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I can see where people “come from” (ie where you work or live from the IP) when they visit the blog. The one post that got the most attention from Delta corp computers was THIS post about how to avoid bag fees. Delta has a bunch of luggage rules and I have blogged about them extensively and you can find out more in E12 in the Essential tab.

But currently, say you are going to fly coast to coast on Delta, and you don’t have a Delta AMEX card so will have to pay for your 1st bag, it will set you back $25. Have you ever thought about the fact that your fee was a bargain? I mean, discounting the $60 minimum fee for using Delta Cargo, just the cost for a 50 lbs bag from coast to coast should cost you $43.50! Even the $35 second bag fee is a bargain at that rate.

Now before your head explodes, I am not saying you should be happy about forking over $60 to check two bags – one way – on Delta. But I hope this makes the point that weight, and the fuel to carry the weight, does have a huge impact on our airline not to mention the environment for the extra pollution we make. So all I am saying is think when you pack. Don’t pack things you will not need as it may cost you more money and could be just wasting gas! – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I suspect you posted this to spark debate, so I’ll fall for the cool plan, and give you my thoughts. No, the fee is not a bargain, and there is no use painting lipstick on a pig. It’s OK to charge a fee since Delta was not profitable in the pre-fee era. I get that. But the fee is not a bargain, it is not kind, and it does not create a better world. It creates another barrier to travel and makes life more difficult, especially for people who aren’t as wealthy or our elders who can get confused with the constant changes.

    The bargain, which we enjoyed for decades, was NO fee. There is no bargain in people having to stand in lines to have bags weighed and extra fees added. It is a time waster even if you don’t have to pay any fee. As a Delta Gold and Skymiles Amex holder, I don’t pay a fee, so it would be easy for me to stay silent. And my recent trip was in business, so again, no fee. But I understand that not everyone has the ability to enjoy these privileges, yet they too need to travel.

    Thing is the fee is not about saving the earth or saving fuel…it’s about gouging the people who can afford to spend the least in the first place, people who don’t qualify for credit cards, people who can’t earn status, people who must fly economy. And yet they too must occasionally fly home to see their relatives…
    I realize Delta is a business, not a charity, and they are trying actively to shed lower income/bargain customers. It may be a smart business decision. But it’s a little harsh on people who may not have as many resources, yet they too must move around in a global world.

    It is hard for me to look at all these confused people standing in line, especially the older folks, and have any warm feelings about the unnecessary hassles that come with the fees. We will all get older and even if we don’t care now, we might care later that we sat back and cheered this kind of thing on.

  2. Tell you what, when you start charging the guy sitting next to me, who just happens to weigh a hundred pounds more than I do, more for his ticket, due to his impact on the environment and your airline, then I will consider your argument to be valid. Until then why don’t we keep bag fees in their true context: A VERY healthy revenue stream!

  3. Noah Kimmel Reply

    I am fine with airlines charging bag fees as it is an extra service that costs the airline more money. It is value-added for the customer. Bringing with you is cheaper than shipping via UPS or Fedex, and you should pay for the extra handling, fuel, and other costs.

    My issue, is that we are not equal (i.e. charging for carry ons). While fees are a pain in the a$$ and frustrating on top of ticket cost, I am sick of paying to check or involuntary gate checking bags so someone else can bring 3 on, or waiting on a long security line because too many people brought big bags, or seeing FAs or other Pax getting hurt helping someone lifting a bag into a bin that wont fit and is too heavy.

    Airlines need to rethink the entire baggage policy. Southwest gets quicker boarding by free bags, Spirit gets quicker turns and lighter weight by charging for everything, Alaska gets people to check with their time guarantee….what will be the next innovation?

  4. I have to agree. Baggage fees are low. I’d go one step further and suggest lowering the weight limit for checked bags.

    Of course, anybody with half a brain can avoid fees altogether. And we all know how to do that. I figure, though, that the 30k I spent on delta last year subsidized many other travelers’ baggage fees.

    the real issue in terms of making the flight experience better is enforcing rules for carry on bags. Fees drive a lot of less seasoned fliers to drag much more on the plane than is technical allowed. At the very least it slows boarding. At the worst it creates unsafe cabin situations.

    Experienced travelers are sometimes guilty too. I’ve watched countless business travelers board with oversize bags and even two roller bags. If I can do a two week business trip with a Zuca and a small shoulder bag there’s no reason for peoe to haul half their worldly possessions into the cabin with them.

    In the past two years of flying I’ve never seen Delta agents question the size of someone’s carry on.

    Enforce the carry on rules first and I don’t mind higher checked baggage fees

  5. I’m okay with the domestic baggage fees but international kills me — especially when I’m paying for someone else’s ticket and have to fork over $100+ for a bag even though I’m platinum with a reserve card but not flying on the itinerary. Grr.

  6. Scotty, your world is a cruel world for older people, immigrants who really do have to carry “half their belongings,” and, really, a surprisingly large category of travelers who are already struggling.

    Mike, I like your point. If it was about the environment, weigh the person plus bags, and charge according to total weight. My weight plus all the bags I could carry is still lower than the average weight of an adult American, which my coach tells me is around 160 pounds. Heh.

  7. I disagree, as I don’t think we can equate luggage to shipping a box. The service is different and the standards are different.
    I do think the fees are fine, as they are incremental to the ticket price as it stands. If a competing airline can charge roughly the same fee for a ticket and bags, then it stands to reason raising the bag fee will drive more customers to the competing airlines. I think Delta relies heavily on the discount economy domestic traveler to fill seats, and raising the bag fee will only force them to Southwest, Jetblue (where bags are free) or Spirit (where bags cost but the ticket is heavily discounted).
    The big question is how much does Delta NEED to raise fees rather than WANT to make more revenue? Bag fees are necessary, but still an incremental charge, and raising them is essentially a stealthy fare increase without the taxation.
    In summary, I think bag fees are fair as they currently are, since clothing is part of the travel deal and there isn’t much evidence that most airlines needs more revenue to be solvent. Delta is going to price themselves out of the domestic US market, if they aren’t careful.

  8. I take everything back! 🙂
    I just read on Mommy Points’ blog how United pulled …well, a United on her family with the standard poor customer service I come to expect from them.

    Delta can charge as much as it wants for bags, just don’t take away the great customer service!

  9. I don’t think comparing the bag fee to a cargo cost is valid. Different markets, different customers… I doubt any of us knows how to establish a true parametric analysis between what is charged on DL cargo vs. the checked bag fee.

    The extra weight/environmental savings comparison is only fair if one were to start charging for total passenger + carryon + checked bag weight.

    Checked bag fees do seem to drive more carry-on stuff for many passengers, clogging up the boarding process, wasting time and resources gate-checking bags.

    Bag fees are a pure money grab, both directly and as a means of incentivizing credit cards and other things. Obviously they’re not going away but call it what it is (for all the airlines who charge, not counting the oddball WN)

  10. I like how people on here are all “what about the poor people, and the old people, and the immigrants” like flying on an airplane is a human right. Delta is a business, they offer a service, which costs money to use. If you can’t afford the service, you don’t use the service and find an alternative. No one is entitled to fly just because it’s the quickest and most convenient way to get from point A to point B. There are cars and trains and buses that will all get people to where they are going. They may not be as convenient, but they’ll still get you where you want to go (unless it’s over seas, then you’re edit). Sorry if I come off as harsh, but I’m very much of the mindset of “if you don’t like it, vote with your $$ and don’t use it….period”. People think Walmart is a horrible company because they don’t pay their workers enough or some other reason, yet they continue to shop there. Why? If you don’t like Delta’s baggage fees, go somewhere else.

  11. Peachfront, I’m not worried about baggage fees on the poor. If there were no fees the cost of baggage would be rolled back into ticket prices, like it was decades ago. they’ll pay it either way. at least when fees are a menu item people have some choice over a small portion of their travel cost.

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