Air Canada, WestJet raising checked baggage fee to $30 for lowest fare passengers

Air Canada, WestJet raising checked baggage fee

This is how much more customers can expect to pay

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MONTREAL—Many Canadians will be forced to spend a little more to travel after Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd. said they are increasing fees for passengers to check their bags.

The country’s two largest airlines are raising the fee for the first checked bag to $30 from $25, and for the second bag to $50 from $30.

The moves were made swiftly after major U.S. airline JetBlue Airways Corp. hiked its fees for checked bags and to change a ticket.

“This is the first change since 2014 and will help offset overall increasing costs and keep overall ticket prices competitive,” Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur wrote in an email.

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The new baggage fees apply on flights across Canada, to and from the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico, departing on or after Oct. 5.

WestJet’s changes apply on flights starting Oct. 1 for domestic bookings made as of last Friday, and as of Tuesday on flights to the U.S. and international destinations.

“By raising fees for optional services, such as checked bags, we can continue to maintain the lower fares our guests expect,” added WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart.

She said its fares and fees allow passengers to pay for services that matter most to them.

The fees apply to the lowest fare classes at both airlines.

Air Canada economy flex and economy comfort fares will continue to receive a first checked bag free of charge as will elite members and those who booked Air Canada Vacations packages. Military personnel with identification have up to three free checked bags, regardless of destination.

Fees are waived for WestJet Plus passengers, gold and silver rewards members or those booking with RBC World Elite Mastercards.

Porter Airlines says its fees aren’t changing. Air Transat and Sunwing couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Airlines have been adding fees for a decade and now charge for seats with more legroom, early boarding, upgrades, food and beverages, entertainment and wireless access. Air Canada earned more than $1 billion from these payments last year while WestJet collected about $440 million.

The world’s top 10 airlines collected US$29.7 billion in revenues from ancillary fees last year, up from US$2.1 billion a decade ago, according to IdeaWorksCompany, a U.S. research company that tracks airline revenue.

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