Are Bag Fees Losing Airlines Money?

Atrios: Bag Fees make flying terrible. Yglesias: Who cares, they're good for the environment.

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News yesterday that swelling losses are plaguing the international airline industry has prompted the question, why are people flying less? In a round-house kick to the heart of the matter, Atrios suggests that it could have something to do with the extra baggage, so to speak, that goes along with flying, adding emphasis on the absurdity of bag fees. Louis Vuitton be damned, Matthew Yglesius responds with a defense that invokes price-per-passenger, environmental issues and a fair share of guilt.

  • Atrios: "Obviously the recession has much to do with it, but I do wish it would occur to our great captains of the airline industry that one reason people are flying less is that it the experience has become so incredibly shitty. Some of this is not the fault of the individual airlines, such as stupid security theater, but plenty of it is. I mean bag fees, what the fuck?"
  • Yglesias: "At the margin bag fees do encourage people to pack less stuff which reduces the weight of the plane and thus reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions. I wouldn’t want to argue that bag fees are the cornerstone of the new green economy, but it strikes me as a basic illustration of the point that a lot of customary social practices—from the absence of bag fees to poorly insulated office buildings—are ecologically destructive precisely because they’re economically wasteful."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.