Unless there’s a future announcement involving a significant reduction in fares, it’s hard to see how Sun Country Airlines’ new baggage fee policy does much more than encourage people not to fly Sun Country anymore.
The airline, which announced last month it’s going to adopt more fees and “bundle” its offerings in the manner of no-frills airlines, announced today it’s going to start charging people more to carry their luggage onto the plane than to check their baggage at $20 each. Carrying on will cost $30, $40 if you wait until you arrive at the airport to make the decision.
“Sun Country Airlines is always looking for new and innovative ways to bring value to our customers,” the airline said in its press release this morning. “The new Bundle & Go product offering gives customers more choices when it comes to planning and budgeting for their specific travel needs.”
But the airline didn’t announce any value to its passengers that would make flying Sun County at all attractive. That is: It offered no fare incentive to make putting up with the new fees any real choice at all. The airline president did indicate to the Star Tribune, however, that there’ll be an adjustment in fares, although he didn’t say how much. Without that information, it’s impossible to know whether this ends up being a good deal for passengers.
The new fees begin with bookings that passengers make start Wednesday for travel that commences on Jan. 19.
For comparison, let’s try a Friday-Monday round trip to Boston on Jan. 19. Booked now, the fare will run you $358.40 plus the baggage fees. Delta’s more numerous flights at the same time also cost $358.40. Delta doesn’t charge for carry-on, although the checked baggage is $5 more than Sun Country’s.
Asked what the fare might be after the baggage fees are implemented, a Sun Country spokesperson said only, “Sun Country will continue to provide competitive fares and the reputable customer service for which Sun Country is known.”
Sun County says the new fees will result in “people getting to their destinations sooner” because it will take less time to get off the plane. But that’s true only if your destination is the baggage claim carousel.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room, however, is Jet Blue, the low-cost airline that will begin flying nonstop between Minneapolis and Boston next spring, charging $236 round trip, $284 with a checked bag.
Once Jet Blue starts flying here, Sun County will reduce its fare to $266.40, still slightly higher with the new baggage fees.
Sun Country’s popular flights to Las Vegas will have a base fare in January of about $282 (plus the new baggage fees). Delta’s $308 fare is competitive for those who carry on luggage.
All of that will change, of course, if people decide they like the idea of paying for carry-on luggage. Other airlines would most certainly follow suit.
Oh, by the way, shipping your 35-pound suitcase via UPS or another carrier isn’t much of an option for you in the new age of increased fees. A suitcase shipped to Boston, for example, will cost you about $58 each way.