While most of the traveling public saw an increase in baggage fees this month, those carrying airline elite status were once more spared. Sooner or later, that luck will surely run out.
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The process is taking a few weeks, but one by one, nearly every North American air carrier is in the process of raising checked bag fees by about 20 percent. It started late last month when JetBlue (then Air Canada, then WestJet) raised first-checked-bag fees from $25 to $30. United followed suit this month while last week, both American and Delta finally capitulated and did the same.
Immune from the new fees, however, have been loyalty program members carrying any sort of elite status. At American Airlines, for example, those who earn gold status (i.e. fly 25,000 miles and spend $3,000 in a calendar year) are given a free checked bag with every flight. Top-tier members on that airline are given three. In total, that can add up to $230 of savings on a round-trip flight.
Over at United, meanwhile, top-tier members were also told last week that they can now pre-board with other airline VIPs, while low-level elite passengers can still load through the priority lane.
A cynic might say that the already-rich are just staying on top while the rest of the traveling public suffers more. But here at Skift’s Business of Loyalty newsletter, it proves a fine illustration: Loyalty, even just a little bit of it, can have enormous value.
— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor
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Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.
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Photo credit: Air Canada passengers pick up their luggage at the partially opened Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. Air Canada was among the first airlines to raise its baggage fees late this summer. Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP