May 2, 2013 in Business

Frontier adds hefty carry-on fee for some passengers

Joshua Freed Associated Press
 

Frontier Airlines plans to start charging up to $100 for a carry-on bag and $2 for coffee or soda, although its announcement Wednesday did say that passengers will get to keep the whole can.

The new carry-on fee is for bags in the overhead bin, so small bags under the seat will still be free. Frontier said it will charge $25 if the fee is paid in advance, $100 if travelers wait to pay until they’re at the gate.

Frontier spokeswoman Kate O’Malley said the $100 fee is to get travelers to take care of the charge in advance. “We don’t want to charge that,” she said.

From Spokane, Frontier flies to Denver, its hub.

Airlines began charging for the first and second checked bags in 2008. Passengers trying to avoid those fees have been stuffing as much as they can into carry-on baggage stashed in overhead bins. Fees are one way to get passengers to bring less on board.

O’Malley said the new charge is not really about raising money. “It’s about Frontier’s most loyal customers making it very clear that finding overhead bin space has become increasingly difficult.”

Passengers who buy their tickets on the airline’s website won’t have to pay. That means one passenger in line at a Frontier gate might get to bring a bag on for free, while the next person in line might owe $100 for a similar bag. O’Malley said Frontier’s website and check-in procedures are being changed to make sure passengers know about the fee before they get to the gate.

Frontier’s new carry-on fee won’t start until summer, though a date hasn’t been set.

Passengers often grumble about baggage charges, but airlines love them. They argue that luggage costs money to handle, and passengers who want the service should pay for it. Many on Wall Street view the addition of baggage fees as a sign that airlines are charging enough money to cover the cost of air travel after years of losses.

Most haven’t touched carry-on bag fees, though.

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