Southwest: No Free Bags on AirTran Anytime Soon

Southwest Airlines, famous for its slogan “Bags Fly Free,” seems in no hurry to eliminate AirTran’s lucrative baggage fees anytime soon. According to news reports, the giant discounter which acquired AirTran in 2011 will keep the smaller airline’s fees in place into 2014.

See the Latest Changes to Southwest/AirTran Miles Programs

AirTran Fees in Place into 2014

Perhaps this should come as no surprise, since in the first three quarters of 2011 alone, AirTran collected nearly $130 million in bag fees. Add in AirTran’s itinerary change fees – which Southwest also doesn’t charge – and the total jumps to more than $166 million.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly insists the bag and change fees will eventually be dropped “over time” and declared it a non-issue.

See Which 5 Fees are Worth Paying

Billions in Bag Fees

However, Southwest is going against a rising tide of fees that began when American Airlines began collecting money for a first-checked-bag back in 2008. During the first three quarters of last year, U.S. airlines as a group collected more than $2.5 billion in bag fees alone.

Bag Fee Chart for U.S. Airlines, Airlines Around the World

On the other hand, Southwest has proven to be wildly popular with the public and its fiercely loyal fans often cite its free bags policy as a major selling point.


Published: April 23, 2012