Delta, Sun Country shun carry-on fee

  • Article by: BILL McAULIFFE
  • Star Tribune
  • April 18, 2010 - 8:55 PM

Delta, Sun Country and four other airlines have two words for their passengers: Carry on.

The six airlines announced they would not follow the lead of Florida-based Spirit Airlines in charging passengers, who already have been paying extra for checked luggage, up to $45 for a carry-on bag.

"We don't think it's fair to impose that on a passenger for a carry-on bag," said Sun Country spokeswoman Wendy Blackshaw, adding that the charge could make flying "cost-prohibitive."

Delta, Sun Country, American, JetBlue, United and US Air offered commitments over the weekend to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and six other senators that they would not impose the fee. The senators have sponsored a bill to tax any airline that imposes the fee, and defines a carry-on bag as a necessity. A Delta spokesman declined to comment further.

Klobuchar, who sits on the the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, said she had feared other airlines would adopt the carry-on bag fee, "nickel and diming all airline passengers." She said that the senators she was working with had all called airlines in their districts, and that the airlines told the senators Spirit "went too far."

Kate Hanni, executive director of, an advocacy group for travelers, last week called the carry-on fee "hideous" and another example of fees that airlines can charge passengers without being taxed on them. Airlines are taxed 7.5 percent on ticket prices.

The ability to bring a bag onto a plane without charge "is something that's important to our customers and they value, and we will continue making that available to them at no charge," American Airlines spokesman Roger Frizzell said.

For 26 large U.S. airlines, so-called ancillary fee revenue accounted for 6.9 percent of their total operating revenue in the third quarter of 2009, up from 4.1 percent a year earlier, the most recently available government data shows.

Ben Baldanza, Spirit's president and CEO, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the airline never envisioned other airlines following its lead on the carry-on fee. Spirit will begin assessing the fee in August.

"The fact that other people are saying they won't has never changed our view that this is right," Baldanza said.

He said Spirit has lowered its fares more than the price of the new fee.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646 Staff writer Heron Marquez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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