US Airways Hikes Fees for Heavy Baggage

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US Airways says it will be hiking fees on overweight checked baggage starting March 1. Bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds will cost $90, up from the $50 surcharge currently in place.

Bags weighing more than 70 pounds, and oversized bags with dimensions between 62 to 80 inches, will cost $175 -- up from the current $100.

The added fees for heavy bags come in addition to the carrier's standard checked baggage fees of $23 to $35.

The surcharges apply to flights booked after February 1 -- those passengers who booked earlier will not be affected by the increase.

US Airways recently announced significant fourth quarter profits and a rise in corporate demand of 17%.

But at the same time, airlines have been dealing with the inching up of oil prices in recent weeks. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected this week the price of crude oil will average about $93 per barrel in 2011, $14 higher than the average price last year. Jet fuel goes up at the same rate.

United Continental (UAL) recently added $6 fuel surcharges for round-trip tickets, though they were later rolled into base fares. American Airlines (AMR) also raised fares by $4 to $10 on most routes. Other airlines have been matching those increases on many routes.

Whether any other airlines will follow US Airways in increasing heavy baggage fees remains to be seen.

But Southwest Airlines, which does not charge fees for the first two checked bags, says it has no intention of adding a fee.

"Our customers have spoken and we will not be charging fees," says Southwest Airlines spokesman Christi McNeill. "Our customers know these are things that set Southwest apart. The free bags will last – we're committed to that. As the cost of fuel rises, we still have to operate the most efficient airline in industry –and we are not scared of innovating through challenging times to take the sting out of flying for our customers."

A US Airways spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Photo, leonardjohnmatthews, flickr
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