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View Full Version : Can Airlines Change Luggage Rules After Ticket Purchase??


Bill From PA
04-01-2008, 10:53 AM
Some airlines have a 1 checked bag per passenger limit and others are looking to follow suit. This rule will be a factor in my choice of arlines next March, and my question is, if our choice allows 2 bags of 50 lbs each when I buy, can they change that and apply it to my flights, or are the rules set in stone once I pay?

Thanks,
Bill From PA

bavaria
04-01-2008, 11:14 AM
Yes, they can. As can rental cars change taxes and fees from the time of booking to the actual date of use.

Bill From PA
04-01-2008, 11:25 AM
Yes, they can. As can rental cars change taxes and fees from the time of booking to the actual date of use.

I'm surprised. There's a huge difference between making a ressie for a car, I've got an Alamo car for 8 days for $234, and an airline ticket. I can blow off the car rental and look elsewhere without penalty if terms change, once airfare is purchased there's no changing things without a fee, if then. But if that's how it is, that's it.

Bill From PA

mickey2000
04-01-2008, 11:27 AM
I would think by this time next year ALL airlines will have this in place.
JMO.

Lewisc
04-01-2008, 11:32 AM
The luggage rules are contained in the CoC, you're bound by the CoC that's in effect when you fly. Generally you're entitled to a refund if you don't agree to the new terms.

I'd assume most airlines will be down to one (or possibly zero) free checked bags shortly.

I think what Delta is doing is despicable, they are continuing to show the 2 bag rules in their website but showing the new rules in the CoC.

bavaria
04-01-2008, 11:42 AM
I'm surprised. There's a huge difference between making a ressie for a car, I've got an Alamo car for 8 days for $234, and an airline ticket. I can blow off the car rental and look elsewhere without penalty if terms change, once airfare is purchased there's no changing things without a fee, if then. But if that's how it is, that's it.

Bill From PA

The difference however is that one does have a choice when it comes to checking a second bag. If a fee is implemented and one does not agree with it, one has options. Pack less, do laundry, pay the fee, ship items, etc

The fee does not apply to everyone, just those who choose to make use of the service. It is not a mandatory fee for all passengers.

Same holds true for an increase in the buy on board meal - if it goes from 'free' to $5, or from $5 to $7, one has a choice as to whether or not one wants to purchase the meal.

Horace Horsecollar
04-01-2008, 11:44 AM
So far, the airlines have "grandfathered" those passengers who bought before the announcement of a charge for a second checked bag.

For example, the announcement from United included the following: "This policy is for travel exclusively within the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada and applies to tickets purchased on or after February 4, 2008 for travel on or after May 5, 2008."

I expect additional airlines (possibly all U.S.-based airlines eventually) to begin charging non-elite, economy class passengers for a second checked bag. And I expect them to "grandfather" passengers who bought tickets before the announcement, similar to how United handled it.

On the other hand, there have been cases when airlines have "changed the rules" after passengers bought their tickets. For example, several airlines replaced free meals with buy-onboard meals. Passengers who bought their tickets before the change were not given any special consideration.

The difference is that meals were never guaranteed, but passengers should reasonably expect the published checked baggage allowances that were in effect when they bought their tickets to be honored by their airline.

Lewisc
04-01-2008, 11:46 AM
The difference however is that one does have a choice when it comes to checking a second bag. If a fee is implemented and one does not agree with it, one has options. Pack less, do laundry, pay the fee, ship items, etc



That's only true if the passenger is aware of the policy prior to arriving at the airport. Delta is still showing the 2 free checked bag policy in their main site but updated the CoC.

I'm beginning to think Delta is counting on revene from passengers that don't know, and can't realistically be expected to know, of the new charged until they arrive at the airport.

Other airlines aren't charing passengers who booked under the old rules.

bavaria
04-01-2008, 11:51 AM
I agree Lewis that Delta did not implement this well, but frankly I think that they are desperate and it is showing. With a merger no longer on the horizon, I think that they are in a panic and are trying to maximize revenues as best they can.

Conventional wisdom is that they have tossed out the current MQM bonus as an appeasement to travellers in hopes that they will forgive or overlook the fee increases.

I didn't think that Delta would be the first of the existing US legacy carriers to 'crack', but I think that this is what we are witnessing now.

Bill From PA
04-01-2008, 11:58 AM
The difference however is that one does have a choice when it comes to checking a second bag. If a fee is implemented and one does not agree with it, one has options. Pack less, do laundry, pay the fee, ship items, etc

The fee does not apply to everyone, just those who choose to make use of the service. It is not a mandatory fee for all passengers.

Same holds true for an increase in the buy on board meal - if it goes from 'free' to $5, or from $5 to $7, one has a choice as to whether or not one wants to purchase the meal.

Not to quibble, but my point here is that I'll verify my Alamo reservation the day before we leave for MCO, and if the terms have been changed to my disadvantage, I'll shop elsewhere without penalty. I can walk up to the desk and if I don't like what I'm signing for, I'm out of there, no charge. When I reserve 2 seats on an airline after reading the terms, they've got my money and I can't walk away or make any changes without paying a fee, if at all. I don't know the law, which is why I asked about this in the first place, it just seems to me that if I plunk down $$ for a RT flight and their documentation at the time of purchase says 2 bags each, then that's what I've contracted for. We'll just check 1 each and jam stuff into 2 carry-ons if this happens to us. The baggage allowance will still be a consideration when it comes time to fly.

Bill From PA

bavaria
04-01-2008, 12:03 PM
but you still have a choice. If you choose to check two bags, you pay the fee.

megveg
04-01-2008, 12:09 PM
Delta is charging for the second bag after May 1 regardless of when you booked your tickets.

Lewisc
04-01-2008, 12:14 PM
but you still have a choice. If you choose to check two bags, you pay the fee.

not to quibble but a passenger who shows up with 2 bags doesn't really have a choice.

Only passengers who are aware of the new policy, prior to leaving for the airport, have a choice. Other airlines grandfathered ticketed passengers. Not only isn't Delta grandfathering passengers but they provided incorrect information on their website.

Passengers going on a ski vacation can't make do with only one checked bag. Passengers (should) have a right to know what it will cost to check their skis and luggage prior to purchasing a ticket.

The next step is to try to add a fuel surcharge to already ticketed passengers.

Jestocost
04-01-2008, 12:18 PM
Not to quibble, but my point here is that I'll verify my Alamo reservation the day before we leave for MCO, and if the terms have been changed to my disadvantage, I'll shop elsewhere without penalty. I can walk up to the desk and if I don't like what I'm signing for, I'm out of there, no charge. When I reserve 2 seats on an airline after reading the terms, they've got my money and I can't walk away or make any changes without paying a fee, if at all. I don't know the law, which is why I asked about this in the first place, it just seems to me that if I plunk down $$ for a RT flight and their documentation at the time of purchase says 2 bags each, then that's what I've contracted for. We'll just check 1 each and jam stuff into 2 carry-ons if this happens to us. The baggage allowance will still be a consideration when it comes time to fly.

Bill From PA

You have not in any way contracted for two bags each. You have agreed to a contract of carriage that allows the airline to vary its fees at their whim (and to change your flight schedule, for that matter) and to charge you for making changes or cancelling. It may be a one-sided agreement, but it is what it is.

Bill From PA
04-01-2008, 12:20 PM
but you still have a choice. If you choose to check two bags, you pay the fee.

Last post on this, promise. The senario is this: At the time of ticket purchase, I CHOOSE USAir because they allow 2 checked bags at 50 lbs each. That allowance plays a role in my CHOICE of carriers. After making the reservation, USAir changes the rule to one I would not have CHOSEN in the first place. I made the CHOICE to take 2 checked bags at the time of purchase, and I would not expect to have to CHOOSE again later because the airline changed the rules after I gave them my money. Again, I don't know the law, but if I read the terms on their web site when making my buy, those are the terms I expect to get when they fulfill their end of the transaction.

Bill From PA

bavaria
04-01-2008, 12:21 PM
But isn't the flip side of your argument that passengers who arrive at the terminal with liquids (because the last time they flew in 1999 they could carry on them on board) should be permitted to take them past security if they were not aware of the new rules?

Education is key. I fully expect that Delta will have advised passengers of the second bag fee by May 1st, and will have posted it on their website by then. If people choose not to educate themselves, their loss.

If Delta does not advise passengers other than via the CoC by May 1st, then I agree that they do have recourse to dispute the fee. Otherwise, it is the responsiblity of the passenger to educate themselves, whether in regards to schedule changes, fee changes, or restrictions.

Jestocost
04-01-2008, 12:22 PM
The next step is to try to add a fuel surcharge to already ticketed passengers.

I believe that already is allowed under the terms of most (if not all) contracts of carriage. It hasn't been done by any airline as a result of the current fuel cost upswing, to the best of my knowledge, but the times are a changin'.

Lewisc
04-01-2008, 12:25 PM
I don't it's fair but your ticket purchase is subject to the CoC. The terms of the CoC allows the airline to modify (change) it. The terms of the CoC that's in effect when you fly is what is enforced.

You have the right to a refund, if you don't want to agree to the new terms.


Last post on this, promise. The senario is this: At the time of ticket purchase, I CHOOSE USAir because they allow 2 checked bags at 50 lbs each. That allowance plays a role in my CHOICE of carriers. After making the reservation, USAir changes the rule to one I would not have CHOSEN in the first place. I made the CHOICE to take 2 checked bags at the time of purchase, and I would not expect to have to CHOOSE again later because the airline changed the rules after I gave them my money. Again, I don't know the law, but if I read the terms on their web site when making my buy, those are the terms I expect to get when they fulfill their end of the transaction.

Bill From PA

Lewisc
04-01-2008, 12:27 PM
I believe that already is allowed under the terms of most (if not all) contracts of carriage. It hasn't been done by any airline as a result of the current fuel cost upswing, to the best of my knowledge, but the times are a changin'.


I tried a search in the (pdf) CoC and nothing shows up for fuel surcharge. Airlines could amend the terms of the CoC and add a fuel surcharge but that may cross the line.

Jestocost
04-01-2008, 12:34 PM
I tried a search in the (pdf) CoC and nothing shows up for fuel surcharge. Airlines could amend the terms of the CoC and add a fuel surcharge but that may cross the line.

I think it may be some of the international contracts of carriage that include the fuel surcharge potential. Sorry about the confusion.

Bill From PA
04-01-2008, 12:35 PM
I tried a search in the (pdf) CoC and nothing shows up for fuel surcharge. Airlines could amend the terms of the CoC and add a fuel surcharge but that may cross the line.

This is something else some carriers are considering. The idea is that you reserve a seat on flight 999 for $100, all you get for this is a place on the plane. At sometime closer to the actual flight you get hit with the cost of fuel calculated on prices at that instant. When you make your ressie, you have no way of knowing what fuel will cost on the date you fly, so you have no idea what the final cost of your flight will be when you buy your ticket.

Bill From PA

Jestocost
04-01-2008, 12:36 PM
[B]You have the right to a refund, if you don't want to agree to the new terms.

That's also true, although Delta's CofC refers to a refund being available for material changes. I'm guessing that arguments vis a vis materiality come up frequently in discussions with the airlines over refund requests.

crashbb
04-01-2008, 12:41 PM
It could be worse...you could be flying BA out of Heathrow and be allowed NO baggage!

Thanks to a series of goofs in their brand new terminal, flights were going without any baggage (people were forced to send their baggage back home by cab, if someone hadn't dropped them off). They were lucky I suppose - at least their flights weren't canceled (many were).

On topic - I do agree that Delta is not handling this well. A grandfathering of the charge and an accurate statement on their website would have been better (or at least one of these). On the other hand, what they are doing is not illegal.

fla4fun
04-01-2008, 12:48 PM
It could be worse...you could be flying BA out of Heathrow and be allowed NO baggage!

Thanks to a series of goofs in their brand new terminal, flights were going without any baggage (people were forced to send their baggage back home by cab, if someone hadn't dropped them off). They were lucky I suppose - at least their flights weren't canceled (many were).


I can't imagine, unless you were flying for a really important meeting, that anyone would agree to fly without their luggage. That's just nuts! How could you send your luggage home if there was no one at home because you were going on vacation? They really messed up big time.

But I agree that if you pay for your ticket and then the airline changes the baggage allowance, you should be able to get a refund if you want it. Of course, if it's the airport that makes the change, like when they did away with carryons at the beginning of the no liquids fiasco, then you're just out of luck. But is changing the baggage allowance any different than changing the aircraft type? If they swap out one type of airplane for another, and you don't have the same seat size or pitch, should that entitle you to a refund? As far as the airline is concerned, the answer to both issues is no.

mickey2000
04-01-2008, 12:53 PM
These sort of things will be happening during our current
R E C E S S I O N ......
Just today at he Post Office there was a sign advertising for large trucks that are needed to handle mail delivery. Could this also be related to fuel costs? Local truckers here in my state are in a pinch! Soon it will be filtering down to everything we consume... JMO

mla973
04-01-2008, 01:48 PM
I asked the OP's question to a NWA phone operator last week. She put me on hold to check with a manager. Basically, the answer I got was "I don't know. It's not in place now, so we can't speculate on what will happen in future." She led me to believe the charge wouldn't be added after purchase, but she never said "no, it won't be."

I know many people upset with Spirit who have flown recently to the surprise of paying $20 for each bag. Not knowing it ahead of time, a friend paid $80 in luggage charges to an airline that she booked solely based on the purchase price (before the luggage charges were in place).

buzz2400
04-01-2008, 01:49 PM
When the two airlines said they were going to start charging, I sent an email to delta asking if they were going to do this and how many bags can you check in for free. I am flying delta in august and had already bought the tickets. Delta had responded that you are allowed two checked in pieces of luggage for free. then when I heard delta will be charging for the 2nd piece I email again and was told that I will have to pay for the 2nd piece of luggage effective may. so I sent another email saying I think is was so wrong when I was told 2 pieces for free and that they were changing the policy after I had already bought the tickets and I wanted a refund. I was bluntly told NO to the refund. Anyway I will fly delta on this trip because I bought the tickets and get a refund. I am thinking of buying those bags that you take out the air and are able to pack more. I am also going to have a dry run when I fly in May for disney trip. I truly believe delta will lose customers because of the way they are handling this since there really hasn't been an official announcement from delta that they will be charging you.

crashbb
04-01-2008, 02:07 PM
I am thinking of buying those bags that you take out the air and are able to pack more. I am also going to have a dry run when I fly in May for disney trip.

Be careful with those "air sucking" bags - they make it easy to over pack and overweight charges will likely be more than the $25 for bringing a second bag.

CarolA
04-01-2008, 03:40 PM
Just to make this even more horrifying....

Airlines can also impose fuel surcharges like the cruise lines have (and yes you have to pay them EVEN if you booked before they announed... just ask all those cruisers!!!!)

Airlines have the rules written to protect them...

Horace Horsecollar
04-01-2008, 05:08 PM
That's only true if the passenger is aware of the policy prior to arriving at the airport. Delta is still showing the 2 free checked bag policy in their main site but updated the CoC.

That's an interesting point. Delta Air Lines should not allow their public website and their Contract of Carriage document to be out of sync.

As of right now (April 1, 2008, 6:23 PM EDT), Delta's Baggage Allowances on Flights (http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/baggage/baggage_allowance/index.jsp) page still says:

Checked Baggage
You can check two bags per passenger free of charge.
Each bag must:

Weigh 50 pounds (22.5 kg) or less.
Not exceed 62 inches when you total length plus width plus height.


I'll be interested to see what the website says once it's updated. I would still expect a line such as, "effective May 1, 2008, for tickets purchased after April x, 2008," where x is a few days after the official public announcement (not just the "we plan to.." disclosure) and after the public website is updated.

The Contract of Carriage provides the official legalese, but that doesn't mean that Delta can't or won't treat their passengers fairly during the transition.

A passenger who buys a ticket based on the current website language really ought to be protected -- regardless of what Delta can legally get away with. To do anything else would be unethical.

safetymom
04-01-2008, 07:47 PM
I find it sort of funny that on Flyer Talk the second bag fee doesn't even seem to be much of an issue. Usually they are the first to demand that Delta change a policy.

disneydreamin247
04-02-2008, 06:49 AM
I don't it's fair but your ticket purchase is subject to the CoC. The terms of the CoC allows the airline to modify (change) it. The terms of the CoC that's in effect when you fly is what is enforced.

You have the right to a refund, if you don't want to agree to the new terms.

I contacted Delta for a refund and was denied. They said they can not refund my ticket based on the change of CoC.

Niagara2
04-02-2008, 07:20 AM
Carnival Cruise Lines was told yesterday to refund over 10 million dollars to cruisers who where charged a fuel surcharge after booking. They thought they were protected by their lists in the CoC but were not. Disney cruise line changed our ticket price with additional fee's after we were booked for the repositioning cruise for August 2008 but realized later they cannot do that, or got so many complaints, not sure which, that they wrote again and said the original cost will apply. I still think the airlines will have someone start some class action law suit of people who were charged after already booking. All bets are off from this day forward and we will have these surcharges on everything soon.

Lewisc
04-02-2008, 08:56 AM
I contacted Delta for a refund and was denied. They said they can not refund my ticket based on the change of CoC.

The CoC specifically gives you the right to obtain a refund if you don't agree to material changes in the terms of the CoC. Do you have the name of the representative you talked to? I suspect you can push the issue and get a refund or use the refusal of Delta to issue a refund as the basis to obtain a refund of the charge for excess baggage.

disneydreamin247
04-02-2008, 10:19 AM
I called again today and was told baggage allowance wasn't part of the CoC. I told the rep I read the CoC that I personally read it and it was in there. I was again denied a refund and told I would have to write to corporate if I wanted one and that it was unlikely I would get one