Why Does Luggage Cost So Much? Surprising Answer!

By James Smith
why does luggage cost so much
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If your planning to buy a suitcase you might be wondering, why does luggage cost so much?

The reason is quality costs and if you want luggage that can last you many flights the cost go up. And luggage is big and bulky to ship and takes up much storage space to keep in stock at the warehouse, and that cost is passed to the consumer. Also, good suitcases need to be sturdy to be able to take a beating from being tossed around, compared to just a regular bag. Good strong zippers are also required so it won’t fly open in the middle of transporting the luggage.

Or you might also wonder

Why does luggage cost so much in terms of fees for flying with luggage?

A couple things you want to look at are; recent changes in how consumers purchase plane tickets and the amenities included in those prices, airlines attempting to direct their customer’s (packing) behavior and the percentage of freight carried along with your luggage.

Assuming I’m talking about a low fare ticket with no checked luggage included, I could say that this has always been the price to check your luggage, you might not have noticed because checked luggage was always included in the ticket price when ticket prices were much higher.

I could also assume you are talking about the additional checked luggage you can purchase in addition to the one that is already (sometimes) included in your airfare ticket. To this I say, this is a way for airlines to influence our behavior when packing.

No one said anything about luggage fees 25 years ago when consumers were paying no less than $1,000 to travel from New York to Los Angeles because luggage was already included in the fare.

As the years go on, more and more airlines are developed and introduced, creating more competition among airline companies, this, the lowering costs of aviation fuel and government restrictions are all factors in airfare going down drastically in the last 20 years.

If you’ve ever had a conversation with the person next to you on a flight, you know that no traveler is the same.

Some travel for business, carrying only a carry-on and on the other hand some travel for a 6 month period of time, checking 2 full-size suitcases below the plane.

Throughout the years, companies take this into consideration, lo and behold, we have categories that go beyond economy, business and first class.

Norwegian introduces international flights at a rate of $300. This is if you bring a backpack, a carry on and yourself. For some, this is all anyone needs, but for others, they offer categories including, LowFare, LowFare+, Flex, Premium, and PremiumFlex.

Every category is priced different because they all offer different amenities. In other words, you have a base ticket that takes you where you need to be but the free socks, and free checked luggage is up to you for purchase.

This works for some customers, this allows people to feel like they are really only paying for what they need because everyone loves to save money.

Why are these extra add-on checked luggage costing us so much?

How many times have you packed your luggage and realized it was 10 pounds overweight?

It happens to me way too often and I’ve been traveling for 20 years. The counter at the airport where you do the checking of your bag is where you see the family excited to finally go to Disney World, full of energy while also full of stress.

A dad with a large americano in hand because he’s been packing all night but nevertheless, the lady at the counter says the luggage is 5 pounds overweight. The mom opens the luggage for all to see, trying to find something, anything to take out.

Thinking really hard as to what they really need versus what they can live without for the next week even though they would never look at it at home, all because no one wants to pay for the extra luggage. This is what we call influencing behavior.

If airline companies let us bring our whole walk-in closet without any restrictions or rules would we ever make any decisions? Would we ever actually say, “No I don’t need that so I won’t bring it.” Airlines influence their consumers’ packing behavior in the way of pricing extra luggage very high.

The family who can’t find anything to take out of the luggage is left in a desperate situation, willing to pay a lot, anything, just to get their luggage to Disney World. Airlines take advantage of this desperation and price extra luggage very high.

So why the weight restriction per bag not per customer?

If I have two bags and one is 55 pounds and the other is 45 pounds, why can’t they just count it together?

These weight restrictions per bag are in thought of the workers that handle the bag.

Due to the large amounts of handling 50-pound bags every day, and the shape of the cargo hold, back injuries have been the most common among these workers. The injuries caused at work cost airline companies a great deal of money in medical bills for their employees.

These employees are required to be able to lift 50 pounds, but no more than 75 pounds.

If the lady at the counter lets every person go through without paying the luggage overweight fee when their bag could be 3-5 pounds overweight, that in turn affects the company as a whole injuring the workers who handle the bags, having the airline pay more per year in medical fees for the employees. It’s a domino effect that seems minuscule when at the counter but in the end affects a bigger picture.

High luggage fees ensure the consumer follow the regulations of weight if you know going over the weight limit or an extra bag will cost you a minimum of $25-40 you make a conscious decision to abide by the weight restrictions in a single bag and/or distribute your extra weight into a whole new suitcase.

Freight is anything other than the passengers’ luggage transported in the cargo hold. This could be anything such as mail, organs needed for donation, mechanical machine parts, or other luggage that must be sent in a timely manner often transported with pallets.

Freight makes up 5-10% of an airlines revenue. If airlines freely allowed passengers to bring excess luggage this would cut a percentage of their earnings. Airlines are happy to have you and allow you to bring extra luggage but if they are losing money by not being able to carry extra freight because they must carry your extra bag, it will not go unpaid for.

All of these factors are something to take into consideration when you’re packing the night before your flight wondering why it is so difficult to make a decision on what to fit in a carry-on or checked luggage, why extra luggage fees are so high, and why weight per luggage instead of per person even matters. Remember, if you go a week without thinking about it, don’t bring it.

If you are concerned about why airlines still loose luggage even when you pay so much to check it in the first place, consider your layover time.

When a plane lands and has to deliver luggage from that plane to 10 other flights in 3 different terminals and your flight leaves in 1 hour after landing, this can be tricky and set your luggage up for failure. Remember to consider your layover time for your luggage, not just how fast you can run to the next gate.

Happy flying!

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Hi, I'm James Smith, I love traveling and always looking to optimize the traveling life to make it as comfortable and stress-free as possible. I especially love to nerd out about choosing the right luggage.

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