Skift Take

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.

Series: Business of Loyalty

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The Skift Business of Loyalty covers the world of hotel, airline, and other consumer loyalty programs in the travel industry. Read more coverage of loyalty here.

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

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

Frontier Lowers Its Change Fees As Competition Heats Up: As some of its competitors increase fees to add revenue as fuel prices rise, Frontier Airlines seeks to differentiate itself by reducing how much it charges many customers to change or cancel tickets.

Choice Hotels Debuts New Midscale Brand Clarion Pointe: Another day, and yet another new hotel brand.

Emirates Looks to Become World’s Largest Airline With Potential Takeover of Etihad: An Emirates-Etihad merger makes a lot of sense. Emirates may not be as strong as it once was, but it’s still a well-run global airline that strikes fear into established competitors. Eithad, however, is in rough shape. It could use a makeover.

How Hotels Need to Balance the Amenities We Want Versus Those We Actually Use: Our anticipated use of certain hotel amenities is often greater than our actual use, according to the findings of a new study from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration’s Center for Hospitality Research.

How Designer Hotels Are Targeting Chinese Tourists: Design-branded properties are well placed to the growing number of Chinese middle- and upper-class consumers, thanks to the intersection of luxury travel and fashion.

Hilton Commits to Growing Its Portfolio of All-Inclusive Resorts: Hilton is the latest major hospitality player to enter into a niche, but growing sector of accommodations.

American Airlines Adds Seats to Premium Economy by Cutting Business Class: American Airlines Group Inc. is removing eight business class seats from its Boeing Co. 787-8 Dreamliners as it completes a drive to add a new premium economy offering on its biggest planes.

Priority Pass Adds 2 More U.S. Restaurant Lounges — Here’s a List of All 25 of Them: With access to more than 1,200 lounges worldwide, Priority Pass has quite the network. Recently, the program has branched out and started to add restaurants to its roster, letting members enjoy a true sit-down dining experience as part of their membership.

Virgin Atlantic’s New Departure Lounge on the Beach Has Opened: Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays have opened a new departure “lounge” on Barbados. It’s a departure beach that includes check-in and baggage drop-off.


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

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