Thoughts on Airline Luggage Policies at Southwest Airlines

What gives, Southwest Airlines?

Let’s face it, airplane luggage policies have been on a pretty downward trajectory over the last several years.  Every airline in the Universe except Southwest Airlines (and maybe a couple others) charges obscene bag fees.  But Southwest is supposed to be different… they’re supposed to care about the customer and provide quality service that is reliable and affordable.

Southwest Airlines logo Cliff SatellHerb Kelleher built a better airline and did things totally wrong.  At least wrong according to the now-defunct competitors. Forming an airline at the time Southwest was founded was foolish and risky.  Especially when you’re trying to change consumers’ behavior to the point that they would choose to fly over driving a medium length distance.  Starting in Texas, the philosophy of law fares, short routes and speedy turnarounds built Southwest into the leader.

Anyway, they still frustrated me today when I was still charged $50 for my checked bag.  They do allow two free bags which the nice lady at the desk kept reminding me.  But since my one bag was about 5 pounds overweight (55 lbs.) I had to pay.  Now, I tried to argue that my second bag was wayyy under the 50 lb limit, by more than 30 lbs. So what’s the difference as long as the two bags combined are less than 100 lbs.?  The plane isn’t carrying a dangerous extra amount of cargo since the total is what matters.

But God forbid any passenger goes a single pound over, you might face arrest.

And, while I understand there should be a limit at some point, however arbitrary, the fee should be sliding, not flat.  Every airline does it the same: if you’re even one pound over, you pay just as much as the person who is 49 lbs. over.  Even with Southwest Airlines.

Why can’t you just pay $1 for every pound you’re over so consumers don’t face obscene charges.

Somewhere, Larry David is nodding knowingly. Maybe annoying bag fees put him in a state of panic right before this scene:

-Cliff Satell

Cliff Satell

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