Should Airlines Offer Customers Guarantees on Services and Products For Which They Charge Fees?

Dash 8-Q400 aircraft operated by Porter Airlines sit at the gates at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in May of 2012. Photograph by FlyerTalk member Genius1. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by Genius1.

An announcement from Porter Airlines brings a mixture of bad news and good news.

The bad news is that effective as of August 1, 2013, Porter Airlines will start charging fees for checked bags on its flights between Canada and the United States; and the fee for the third checked bag and each subsequent checked bag on domestic flights within Canada will increase to $100.00.

The good news is that Porter Airlines will guarantee delivery of your bags within 30 minutes — and if Porter Airlines fails to honor that guarantee, you will receive a voucher of $25.00 valid towards the purchase of a future flight operated by Porter Airlines where travel must occur within six months.

Here are the fees to be imposed on checked bags for travel between the United States and Canada:

Description of Fee Firm Fare Flexible Fare Freedom Fare
First bag $25.00 – $28.25 $25.00 – $28.25 $0
Second bag $35.00 – $40.25 $0 $0
Third bag and subsequent bags $100.00 – $115.00 $100.00 – $115.00 $100.00 – $115.00
Weight fee per bag of any one bag
greater than 23 kilograms
$75.00 – $86.25 $75.00 – $86.25 $75.00 – $86.25
Oversized fee per bag $75.00 – $86.25 $75.00 – $86.25 $75.00 – $86.25

 

Porter Airlines is also increasing checked bag weight allowances to 23 kilograms — or 50 pounds — and 158 linear centimeters combining the total of the length, width and height per bag. The previous weight allowance was a combined total of 23 kilograms for all checked bags.

Overweight and oversize bags on Porter Airlines are limited to a maximum of 32 kilograms — or 70 pounds — and 158 linear centimeters.

An excess weight or size fee of $75.00 is charged only once per bag. This charge does not apply when additional baggage fees are paid for the third and subsequent checked bags. At the same time, all per kilogram overweight charges are eliminated.

Alaska Airlines has been offering a guarantee of its baggage service to its customers since July of 2009 — but many airlines seem to offer no guarantee on any product or service on which they charge fees.

I say that needs to change. If an airline charges a fee for a product or service, it should guarantee that product or service — as Porter Airlines and Alaska Airlines already do with their baggage services.

As an example — before the airlines decided to go “fee crazy” — they were notorious for losing the bags of passengers and not returning them in a timely manner. Charging fees for products and services which used to be included as part of the airfare does not necessarily guarantee that those products and services will improve — it just ensures greater revenue for the airline.

What do you think? Should airlines be more accountable for the delivery of products and services to its passengers when an extra fee is assessed? Which would you rather have: a product or service included in the airfare but no guarantee that you will be satisfied, or a product or service which costs extra with a guarantee of satisfaction included for you?

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Comments (Showing 8 of 8)

  • cbellero at 1:03pm July 05, 2013

    To me a guarantee would be: if it is not received within 30 minutes, the fee will be refunded in CASH (or equivalent), not in a voucher for a future flight within six months. What they are offering is only a marketing gimmick.

  • duniawala at 3:22pm July 05, 2013

    Refund the charges and pay a penalty for every hour it is not returned with the max cap of lost luggage payment.

  • dilbertc at 6:37pm July 05, 2013

    It would be better if they were to offer service guarantee, it should either be in cash or with non-expiring credit. As I tend to travel with a carry-on size bag and buy alcohol abroad, I have no choice but to check in the bag when returning. Perhaps they could have reduced it to one checked bag in either direction per round trip booking instead. I may have to defect to WestJet for the return flight.

  • 98103 at 10:11am July 06, 2013

    Most airlines will refund a baggage fee if it does not arrive on the same flight that it is checked on for. A passenger just needs to request it (nicely). The guarantee is just a marketing tool to set Porter or Alaska out as different than other airlines.

    My bigger beef is with premium economy seating. If there is an aircraft swap or a cancellation, and I am denied such a seat because of that, I think there’s a case for that fee being refunded as well, particularly if I’ve purchased one for a long haul flight. These are often much more than a checked baggage fee, and even if a bag is late there is a case to be made that you still received the service you paid for. Not so when you’ve been thrust into a seat with substantially less leg room than one you’ve paid for, and in some cases, are not receiving other benefits that might be part of the deal, such as priority boarding or free drinks.

  • harvyk at 8:23pm July 07, 2013

    IMHO, as soon as the airlines started charging for bags separate from the fare, they also became couriers. There is an expectation that if you use a courier to deliver something somewhere, that it will arrive on time as expected.

    The airlines in this can’t have their cake and eat it too (a very strange expression), if they want to charge for bags then that’s fine, but there becomes an expectation that those bags are delivered as expected or the charge is refunded. Basically if they fail as part of a fare, then they can argue that it was “free”, but now they are specifically charging for a service, and failing to provide that service should equal no charge.

  • craz at 7:12am July 08, 2013

    If no airline will refund you your money that you paid for the flight if it doesnt arrive on time, why should they for the bags? They arent charging you and saying your bags will arrive with you,they are charging for shipping them.

    I believe even FEDEX did away with their guarantee for a specific delivery time

    If your bags dont arrive and they were turned in on time then the Carrier will at its own expense delivery them to you, which can cost it more then you paid to check it in.

    Fees are really the only way for an airline to make money nowadays,they are here to stay like it or not. Just keep in mind that you arent paying for the bags to arrive when you do, but for that airline to ship them for you hoping not to inconivience you and to indeed have them arrive when you do

    If they had to refund the fee if the bags didnt arrive when you do, then you better keep in mind youd have to find your way back to the airport and claim the bags when then do arrive. Since the fee would be for having the bags arrive when you do and not for shipping them.

  • Annalisa12 at 1:34am July 09, 2013

    I recall a time years ago thinking I’d economise and travel British Airways Economy Plus. There was a condition on the ticket that said that if Economy Plus was not available they would move me BACK to economy and not refund my ticket. There was no way in hell I was going to buy that ticket with that condition.

  • Annalisa12 at 1:35am July 09, 2013

    When I mean refund my ticket, I mean refund the difference between economy and economy plus.

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