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Airline charges for gate-checked bags

Will Alaska Airlines' new fee -- for oversized or extra carry-on baggage checked at the gate -- make flying more comfortable, or just more expensive?

By Giselle Smith Jun 5, 2012 2:03PM

Image: Airline (© Christie & Cole/Corbis)When most airlines imposed fees for checked baggage in 2008, frugal passengers responded by carrying on all of their luggage. The result was overcrowded overhead compartments and delays at boarding as flight attendants rerouted excess bags.

Finally, an airline is doing something to discourage what seems to have become a routine practice of ignoring carry-on limits -- both for size and number of bags. Alaska Airlines is charging $25 per gate-checked bag -- $5 more than its regular checked-baggage fee, The New York Times says. It's the first domestic airline to do so.

The Seattle-based airline didn't announce the change, but "quietly" added the fee to its website's Carry-On Baggage section, the Times said. The fee applies to all bags that exceed the limit of one free carry-on bag and one personal item, and any bags that exceed the airline's size limit.

"Everybody who flies knows that it's just a mess boarding at the gate," Jay Sorensen, the president of IdeaWorks, told the Times. (Post continues below.)

Sorensen, whose company specializes in building airline revenues, says checked-baggage fees "have conditioned many travelers to just take a bag to the gate and let the gate agent or the flight attendant on board the airplane sort it out. It's a horrible system."

Alaska's carry-on limit -- a 10-by-17-by-24-inch bag, including wheels and handle -- allows a slightly bigger bag than that permitted by most domestic airlines.

Alaska's fee is modest compared with the one announced last month by Spirit Airlines -- a $100 fee for anyone who waits to pay that airline's carry-on bag fee until they're at the gate -- beginning Nov. 6. Spirit is one of two airlines that charge a fee for carry-on bags that won't fit under the seat.

Other airlines have considered a fee for gate checking, but most were reluctant to discuss it with a reporter, the Times said.

"We don't have any immediate changes planned," United Airlines spokesman David Messing told the Times. "We're looking at how to prevent so many noncomplying bags from reaching the gate, as well as better ways to handle noncomplying bags that do reach the gate."

I'll be getting on an Alaska Airlines plane soon, and I'll be interested to see if the new fee makes a difference. First, however, I'm going to measure my carry-on bag.

More on MSN Money:

Jul 16, 2012 2:58PM
What a sad joke on all of us to pay any fee for any reason....just don't pay it and if we all say , NO, the fees will go dumb are we anyway?

Jul 14, 2012 12:21AM

When the airlines allow me a small personal item (small purse), a small suitcase (almost fits under the seat) and a medical equipment bag (does go under the seat I will be happy.  Right now if my husband didn't travel with me I wouldn't even be able to carry my meds or a change of clothes on the plane.  I travel with a CPAP which creates its own problems.


Jul 13, 2012 8:07PM
I'm all for charging for luggage at the gate.  People are going over-board with their carry-on luggage.  Its dangerous to have all these heavy bags just above your head.  And, it does take longer to board because people are looking for a place for their luggage.
Jun 22, 2012 3:35AM
well in a way i disagree with them by not telling their customers up front about the fees yet it is understandable when everyone show up with fifty suitcases there wont be anyroom for people learn how to do your laundry when you travel and you have less luggage or just buy clothing when you reach your destination youll really blend in and touring wont be such a hassle in ways cause people really dont like visitors they just pretend they do folks for the money i would invite you to my house if you were all gonna give
Jun 12, 2012 7:05PM
They are not charging for every carry on people, they are only charging if you ignore the size limits for carry on bags thinking you can get away without paying the checked bag fee.  If your carry on(s) comply with the rules you will not be charged.  I commend Alaska Airlines for this.  People rush the gate attendant as soon as boarding begins to be sure they have a spot in the overhead bin for their bag.  This should help them all fit.

Alaska Airlines get my business by starting Club 49, which allows 2 free checked bags for Alaska Residents flying to or from Alaska.

Jun 6, 2012 12:11PM
Hmm...well that sucks. I'm so glad I don't have to fly. Why would anyone fly if they don't have to anymore? I feel sorry for the people who HAVE to put up with this idiocy.
Jun 5, 2012 7:15PM
All of those added costs wouldn't  be so bad is we were guaranteed a comfortable flight, but with seats getting more and more cramped and food and water infrequent or expensive, flying is just a rotten experience. I'm stuck with flying if I want to vist my family in Europe, but I don't go as often as I used to.  Eventually, I think I'll just move to Europe.
Jun 5, 2012 4:35PM

We, my wife and I, quit flying in 2010....because of the aggressive TSA procedures and the added baggage fees, which I may add, doesn't gaurantee the bags will arrive the same time as you will.

NOW, THE ADDED carry on baggage fee....AS FAR as the airlines are concerned, they will PRICE THEMSELVES OUT OF CUSTOMERS as thay have already with us.

Jun 5, 2012 4:23PM
Finally, A second airline that is obeying the FAA restrictions for carry on luggage.  Sorry, Alaska you are not the first.  That honor goes to Southwest who for years have considered oversize and overweight carry on baggage a SAFETY issue.  Of course, no charge with Southwest and no exceptions.  Qantas also has more restrictive weight and size limits but I do not know if they are strictly enforced.
Jun 5, 2012 3:37PM

Ok, 1st you charge us for bags and I get it they weigh more and take up a lot of space, now you want us to pay for the carry ones also. So do they expect for us to go on a trip with nothing but what we are wearing?? This is getting ridiculous, the gov. might have to step in at some point and keep track of these companies ripper off the consumers.

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