The post title says it all. Apparently some enterprising folks have seen fit to take airlines to court over the checked luggage charges. I’ll let you read the details in the article I wandered across. When you do that, come back here, and let’s talk about this for a few minutes.

OK, welcome back. I’ve often said that I do not have a problem with airlines charging extra for those things that can legitimately be considered an enhancement to the travel experience. Early boarding, better coach seats, and certainly edible food are some of those enhancements. On the subject of checked baggage, I’m a bit less clear. While I’ve long felt that buying an airplane ticket did not equate to renting a moving van, I tend to think that one piece of checked baggage should be considered an integral part of the travel experience. JetBlue, to their credit, agrees with me. Southwest does one better and goes with 2 pieces of checked baggage as part of the fare.

That said, I feel that an airline that is going to charge you an extra fee to transport your checked baggage is at least morally obligated to adjust that charge, or at least offer you something in return if they do not deliver that baggage with you. Alaska Airlines seems to be the only airline that charges for the first checked bag which actually “gets” the idea of doing the right thing when they fail to live up to their end of the baggage bargain. Check out their “Baggage Service Guarantee.” While I’m sure the other airlines come through with a refund of checked baggage charges when they fail to deliver on a case by case basis, Alaska appears to be the only airline to really put its money where it’s “what can we charge for next” brain is and attempt to do the right thing by its customers.

Things like holding on to baggage charges when they don’t deliver your bag with you is just one reason why airlines are under the gun from their customers, and more importantly, Congress. If these companies don’t get it together and learn to do the right thing by their customers, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves when they rediscover the watchful eye of re-regulation. And no, I don’t think re-regulation is a good thing for anyone.