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Is Air Canada's Decision to Increase Checked Bag Fees Following WestJet a Wise Move?

As travelers, we're accustomed to the ebb and flow of airline prices. From fluctuating ticket fares to the ever-changing cost of checking baggage, navigating the skies often feels like a game of financial chess. Recently, the spotlight has shifted to Air Canada as they join the ranks of airlines adjusting their baggage fees. But are these hikes justifiable, or are passengers left carrying the burden?

Hot on the heels of WestJet's decision to raise checked-bag fees by C$5 for economy rates, Air Canada has followed suit. Effective for travel booked after 27FEB, passengers will now face increased fees for checked baggage on basic and standard economy fares within North America, the Caribbean, and Central America. The range is significant, with charges now standing between $35 and $42 for the first checked bag.

In an interview with CBC News, Karl Moore, an associate professor at McGill University's faculty of management, bluntly commented, "It's business." Moore's assessment cuts to the heart of the matter – airlines are in the business of making money, and baggage fees represent a significant revenue stream. With little public outcry over these increases, carriers are seizing the opportunity to bolster their bottom line.

The fee structure unveiled by Air Canada is tiered, with different rates depending on the fare class. For basic and standard economy fares, the first checked bag will now cost passengers between $35 and $42, while the second bag will set them back $50 to $60. However, passengers flying on Comfort and Flex fares will still enjoy a complimentary first checked bag, while subsequent bags will incur charges ranging from $50 to $60. Latitude fare holders are the lucky few, entitled to two free checked bags.

This move by Air Canada mirrors a broader trend in the industry. Just days before Air Canada's announcement, WestJet implemented a similar increase, raising checked-bag fees for economy fares by C$5. The rationale, according to industry experts, is clear: profitability. With other airlines, including United, American, and JetBlue in the U.S., also raising their baggage fees, it seems the trend is gaining momentum.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick defended the increase, stating that it was necessary "to remain competitive." This sentiment underscores the delicate balance airlines must strike between generating revenue and retaining customers. However, for travelers, it's yet another reminder of the evolving landscape of air travel – one where convenience often comes at a cost.

CBC reports that domestic checked-bag fees have surged by 40% since their introduction in 2014. This staggering statistic highlights the steady upward trajectory of ancillary charges within the airline industry. As operating costs continue to rise, carriers are seeking new avenues to offset these expenses – often at the expense of the passenger.

So, where does this leave travelers? In an era of increasing fees and surcharges, the onus is on consumers to navigate the complexities of air travel wisely. While baggage fees may be an unavoidable reality, savvy travelers can mitigate their impact by planning ahead, opting for fare classes that include baggage allowances, or exploring alternative carriers with more favorable policies.

As airlines continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of air travel, passengers must remain vigilant. While the skies may be boundless, the costs of flying are anything but. It's a delicate dance between profitability and passenger satisfaction, one that requires careful consideration from all parties involved.

In the end, whether these baggage fee increases are a necessary evil or a thinly veiled cash grab remains open to interpretation. But one thing is clear – as long as travelers take to the skies, the debate over airline fees will continue to soar.

Fees below are per one way of travel


Economy Class Travel within Air Canada

  • Basic and Standard fares:

    • 1st Bag: $35.00 - $42.00

    • 2nd Bag: $50.00 - $60.00

  • Comfort and Flex fares:

    • 1st Bag: Free

    • 2nd Bag: $50.00 - $60.00

  • Latitude Fares:

    • 2 Bags Free

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