Checked bag fees affect Caribbean

Additional airline baggage charges can mount up when planning a trip overseas.

baggage

Hundreds of bags wait to be checked at the American Airlines terminal at New York’s Kennedy Airport Wednesday, July 30, 2008. Photo: AP

While up to now checked baggage fees have generally only applied to flights domestically within the US, now some airlines have begun to add charges for a first and/or second checked bag in economy class between the US and the Caribbean.

For instance, US Airways, which operates flights to both Charlotte and Boston from Grand Cayman, is now charging for a first and second checked bag.

It charges a US$15 fee for passengers’ first checked bags if purchased on or after 9 July, and it is also charging a US$25 fee for all second checked bags. ‘The new checked bag policies apply to all flights to and from Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as flights within the US,’ states the airline’s website.

Continental Airlines, which offers service from Grand Cayman to Houston and Newark, has implemented a US$25 fee for customers checking a second bag when travelling on economy fare tickets purchased on or after 8 May between the Caribbean and the US.

According to Continental’s website, the charge for the second bag applies each way, so a roundtrip flight would cost US$50 to check a second bag.

The charge applies for each flight and includes any connections as long as the baggage is checked to the final destination.

Low cost airline Spirit Airlines, which operates flights between Grand Cayman and Fort Lauderdale, also has a policy of customers paying for checked luggage. The fee for the first checked bag is US$15 each way when paid in advance online at www.spiritair.com and US$25 each way when purchased at the airport. The fee for a second checked bag is US$25.

While other airlines such as Delta, which operates flights between Grand Cayman and Atlanta, and American Airlines, which operates flights between Grand Cayman and Miami, have applied checked baggage fees for a first or second checked bag domestically in the US, they have not yet done so on international flights.

But what if a customer flies internationally to the US from Cayman, connecting domestically in the US en route?

Carlos A Santos of Delta’s Corporate Communications, confirmed to the Caymanian Compass that as long as domestic travel within in the US is part of the same international ticket from the Cayman Islands, their US$50 fee for a second checked bag will not apply. ‘If the passenger comes to the US and later buys a ticket to travel domestically, then it will apply,’ he said.

Likewise, American Airlines’ Corporate Communications spokesperson Tim Wagner said, ‘There is no first or second bag fee applicable to an itinerary that contains an international destination. So no bag fees would be assessed on that route.’

Local travel agents Katherine Coxe of Cayman Tours and Travel and Mindy Scott-Hennings of Cayman Travel Services said they have not really received any complaints from customers about new checked baggage fees. ‘You got to fly you got to pay for it,’ said Mrs. Coxe.

The airlines are blaming record fuel prices for the fees.

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