Friday, April 27, 2012

Airlines Should Charge Baggage Fees for Carry-Ons.

When the airlines introduced the baggage fee for checked baggage, people responded, as economic theory would predict, by reducing their consumption of checked baggage.  The new baggage fees, however, also changed the demand for the substitute good of carry-on baggage.  Since carry-on baggage is still free, people have an incentive to consume as much of it as possible--leading to ever larger carry on bags and "personal items".

However, just because it's free doesn't mean it is without cost:

  • The airline bears the cost of creating a separate stream of luggage handling (the gate check).
  • All the passengers (and the airline) bear the cost of increased boarding and de-planing times (as people wrestle with luggage).
  • The passengers who board last are often shut out of the "free" resource and have to sacrifice their comfort (legroom) because of 
If the airlines did add a carry on fee (or at least enforced the carry-on size limitations), people would value it appropriately, rather than forcing the costs off on the airline and their fellow passengers.

2 Comments:

Blogger Noumenon said...

Sounds like they'd rather shift the cost onto a couple large and late travelers than make everyone bear the up-front pain of a fee. I like your idea but it must be a tough choice.

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Roger Kovaciny said...

And while we're at it, any time somebody takes 15 items into the ten-items-express lane, the cash register should add an automatic dollar to each overage item and deduct it from the next customer's bill.

9:47 AM  

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