Three-in-four Canadians call airlines’ new checked baggage fees “unacceptable”, “money grab”

Canada’s major airlines are on the hot seat as a result of recently announced $25 fees for the first checked bag for flights in Canada.

The most recent Angus Reid Institute online survey of Canadian adults shows they are widely opposed to the baggage fees recently imposed by domestic airlines.Baggage

The survey findings reveal 75% of respondents view the recently imposed $25 fee for first checked bags as “unacceptable” – with frequent fliers and respondents from BC taking the dimmest view of the added costs (see detailed tables at the end of this release).

Respondents also expressed a preference for airlines to just include bag fees in ticket costs, as well as a desire for more foreign competition on Canadian routes.

The $25 fee: a “money grab”

These new measures are disliked to the extent that a majority of air travelers (58%) would prefer to see the baggage charge folded into higher ticket prices. There is also, however, a sense of resignation when it comes to avoiding these new charges. One-third (34%) say they’ll try to avoid the fees, but if they have to check bags, “so be it”.” Just over one in ten (12%) take a harder line, saying they will do “everything in their power” to avoid checking bags.

Among frequent fliers, the story changes. About three quarters of frequent travelers say they will take steps to avoid checking bags, while close to one-in-five say they will do “everything in their power” to avoid checking bags.

Overall, about forty percent of Canadians say they don’t fly enough to be affected by these new charges.

When asked whether they see the recently announced checked baggage fee as an acceptable business practice or an unacceptable money grab, almost eighty percent of frequent flyers felt this new fee was a “money grab”.

Whether it is fuel surcharge fees, navigational surcharges, or airport improvement fees, air travel fees are not new to Canadians. In March 2013, the Calgary airport increased its airport improvement fee from $25 to $30 to subsidize its new terminal and runway. It is the second highest fee in the country next to Bathurst, N.B. which charges its travelers 40 dollars. Similar fees, such as the Air Travelers Security Charge, which came into effect in 2002, have remained intact since their initial introduction.

Open Skies?

The announcement of new baggage charges has led to calls in some quarters for greater competition in the Canadian airline industry. The ARI survey asked respondents whether or not the federal government should allow foreign airlines to fly on domestic Canadian routes.

Canadians are divided, based on their level of airline use. While close to seven-in-ten travelers who fly more frequently (two or more trips per year) give the thumbs-up to foreign competition, the majority (57%) of those who don’t fly are against the measure.

Image Credit: Rajesh Pamnani

Click here for full report including tables and methodology

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