Virgin America Contemplates Charging For Carry-On Bags

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By - May 19, 2015

Most major U.S. carriers charge passengers for checked baggage but not for carry-on luggage, resulting in crammed overhead bins full of bags. At a conference earlier this month in Scottsdale, Ariz., Virgin America CEO David Cush floated the idea of becoming the first mainstream airline to charge for carry-on baggage.

“We give the most valuable space on the airplane to people for free,” said Cush at the conference, according to Brian Sumers, a Los Angeles-based correspondent for Aviation Week magazine. “But we charge for the least valuable place on the airplane, the belly.”

Cush discussed the airline industry’s pricing structure for baggage, calling it a “backward” system, and questioned why carriers charge customers the same baggage fees on long flights as they do on short flights.

“Is anyone willing to go in and tackle the fact that our package fees are inefficient?” asked Cush. “Who will take the first leap?”

To encourage customers to pack lighter, low-cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air already charge customers for carry-on baggage, excluding one personal item such as a small backpack or purse, so they have room for everyone’s bags on the aircraft. Prices vary, with the lowest fare offered during booking time online.

Do you think the industry’s pricing structure for baggage is backward? Would you still bring carry-on baggage if you had to pay for it? Do you ever experience issues with finding overhead space for your carry-on? If so, on which carrier(s)? Email us. Please include your full name and location with your email.