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Surprising Dynamics Unfold | New Fees On Hawaii Flights

by Staff

To start, we’re in the middle of yet another round of checked bag fee increases for most passengers traveling in economy. You already knew that. But where are Hawaii flights in that mix and what are some additional implications? First, how does it relate to the proposed Alaska/Hawaiian merger, and second, how do these fees impact Southwest Hawaii flyers who don’t pay separately for checked bags?

Why hasn’t Hawaiian Airlines declared its intention on hw to raise fees like others?

We can’t say, but they will likely move in lockstep with some other airlines. If and when that happens, you can expect to pay up to $40 for a first checked bag and $45 for a second checked bag on all airlines flying to Hawaii, except as follows.

Alaska Airlines, which is trying to acquire Hawaiian Airlines, is diverging for the moment from the rest of the airline pack. They raised fees a simple five dollars, without any requirement tp pre-reserve checked bags. Thus, you’ll now pay Alaska $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second checked bag.

American Airlines has raised its checked bag fees to the new model of $45/$40 for the first bag, depending on whether it’s checked online before the flight. The second checked bag fee is $45, whether checked in online or not.

Delta Air Lines has yet to check in on raising bag fees, although it’s hard to imagine they won’t soon. Delta Air Lines has not yet increased its checked-bag fees, which for now remain $30 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second checked bag.

Southwest Airlines remains, as has long been the case, the only airline that has no checked bag fees.

United Airlines has implemented the new fees of $35 prepaid and $45 not prepaid for the first bag. Also, $45/$50 for the second bag.

Hawaiian Air and Alaska Air bag fees – now this will be interesting.

Hawaiian Airlines still charges the legacy fees of $30 for a first checked bag and $40 for a second checked bag. First, we’ve heard nothing officially about their plans, but the likelihood is very high they will raise fees any day.

The more interesting question is when they do raise checked bag fees, will they join Alaska’s checked bag fee structure or will they join with American, United, and likely to be added Delta Air Lines?

Hawaiian and Alaska are awaiting the next steps to seek approval for their proposed merger. Does this even play a role? We wonder just how regulators are viewing any moves made by the two companies.

Does Southwest charge a premium for Hawaii flights, and where do bags fit in?

In search for the most competitive of flights, it now appears that Southwest is not discounting Hawaii flights in the same competitive fashion it once did. That is fascinating, and we’ll have more on that soon. In addition, on the most hotly contested routes between Southwest and Hawaiian, Southwest appears to be charging more on every route, in every season, from what we could anecdotally ascertain this morning. Thus, it seems like the additional value of the free checked bags is now largely calculated into Southwest’s ticket price.

The history of airlines checked bag fees to Hawaii.

The gruesome history of airline checked bag fees is surprisingly brief but has evolved significantly over recent years. We still recall, for example, when airlines included checked bags in their ticket prices. Ha.

Competition and financial pressures led to the first checked bag fees in 2008.

American Airlines first announced the new fee for all checked bags, which was a huge shift. This move emulated the introduction of checked bag fees just before ultra-low-cost airlines Spirit and Allegiant.

American started the charges at $15 for the first checked bag.

Airlines said that as they first implemented these fees, they were needed due to the higher-than-expected cost of jet fuel and other expenses. That escalated after the 2008 financial crisis. Once airlines realized what a lucrative feature checked bag fees had become, they were off to the races.

Since then, fees have multiplied and gone in multiple directions.

Bag fees have become standard throughout the airline industry, except for Southwest. Checked bag fees grew into some carry-on bag fees, and a plethora of other fees, with more being invented all the time. Here are just a few that continue to irk Hawaii travelers:

  • Checked-bag fees: All airlines except Southwest.
  • Carry-on bag fees: United Airlines basic economy.
  • Seat selection fees: All airlines, arguably even Southwest (since they charge for early boarding, that is the equivalent).
  • Priority boarding: Typically bundled with other fees and upgrades.
  • Meals in-flight: All airlines that offer meals in economy class. Hawaiian Airlines offers a snack, and longer flights on multiple airlines (not from the west coast) do frequently come with some free meal or snack offering.
  • WiFi access: All airlines except Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines. Prices vary, but $8 is the most common fee.

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