Should the government stop airlines from charging for carry-on luggage?

The U.S. Senate may act to discourage or ban airlines from charging passengers a fee for carry-on bags, as Spirit Airlines plans to do. Today’s Question: Should the government stop airlines from charging for carry-on luggage?

  • Al

    No. This is a business decision. If passengers really hate the fee that much then maybe some companies will decide to not charge the fee to lure passengers away from the other companies with the fees.

  • Steve

    No! If we are truly a capitalist society we have to let the markets and individuals deal with this with their letters and dollars.

  • Patrick

    No, because a smart airline should take this approach: charge for carry-on bags, but don’t charge for checked luggage (up to 2 bags). That way, most bags will be checked through, and the delays caused by people bringing so many carry-ons will be reduced.

  • Tim

    I have to say this idea is just plain dumb. Consumers will vote with their dollars. Airlines which do not charge for checked bags advertise this benefit. Please, stop, Amy! You’re propagating the tax-and-spend stereotype.

  • Greg

    WELL … assuming there were NO (1) government price support for fuels, (2)government supported air traffic control system, (3) government supported security (4) government supported air safety and accident investigation … all intending to allow for fair competition and reasonable operation – then the under those limiatations – there should be no consideration of taxes. BUT if those services exist – well then taxes on any aspect of the business are reasonable. Now if the airlines want to change that dynamic – and pay real cash for all of those services from their revenues – well then taxes wouldn’t be realistic.

  • Ann

    NO! In addition there should be NO carry ons allowed! ALL bags can be inspected after they are checked in. The current practice of charging for checked luggage and not carry ons has rewarded passengers for carrying MORE baggage on board the plane. The increased the amount of carry on baggage slows security check points, contributes to inaccurate checking of this luggage, slows boarding and deboarding of planes, and adds to the crowding on planes.

  • Ken Fastner

    Of all of the things to charge extra for, carry-on luggage makes the most sense. For convenience sake, people are motivated to carry on the biggest and heaviest bag that they can get away with, which makes loading and deplaning the mess it is today. Charges for smaller and lighter carry-ons could be free or cheap, big heavy ones should cost more. This would motivate vacationers on a budget to check their bags instead of filling up the overhead bins with them. Business folks would just end up putting carry-ons on their expense reports anyway unless a cost-conscious company made a rule requiring bag check-in.

  • EAL

    Sadly, this is another example of the heavy hand of the federal government interjecting itself where private citizens must be allowed to make choices. What the government should focus on is protecting its citizens to exercise the freedom of choice.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Doesn’t the Senate have anything more important to micromanage?

  • Tim Copeland

    No. This is just one more way for Airlines to compete. I am looking forward to being able to take advantage of the savings I can get by traveling light.

  • Ginger

    Tax the airlines based on the number of fees – anything bundled under one ticket is not taxed, but splitting services into a ticket and a dozen fees gets a taxed a dozen times.

  • Justin D

    I don’t even want to get into government controlling private business but what I will say is this. The more weight that is put onto a plane the more fuel it will burn during flight. If you are a frequent flier and want cheaper tickets, they must charge for baggage. If it were rolled into ticket prices, you would always be paying for that family of four flying to disneyland with more luggage than anyone would ever need.

  • Not government’s place. However, I am absolutely disgusted with airlines these days. Fees for checked bags are a really dumb idea. It adds another hassle for business travelers who get reimbursed for their travel — one more receipt to track and submit to your admin. I’ve already taken the Amtrak to Chicago to avoid the pimps at the airlines. Would like to train more, but usually I don’t have the extra time. I will seek out airlines who do want to provide service, without nickel and diming their customers. Sadley, I think nearly all of them have gone the way of the dinosaur.

  • JBlilie

    What we need is for the Federal government to define by law a minimum contract for carriage (MCC) for domestic air travel. This is clearly interstate commerce and subject to Federal standards.

    The MCC should include: Minimum seat pitch, right to carry on one bag of specified min. size and checking of one bag of specified min. size. It should also include free (no charge) availability of drinkable (not necessarily bottled) water and toilets.

    This would level the playing field and make pricing much more fair.

    The MMC should also require very clear advance notice of all charges that may be added to the ticket price.

    Note that airlines have recently at least trial-run charging for:

    1. Use of the toilet

    2. Carry-ons

    3. Checked bags (nearly standard now)

    4. Pillows

    5. Blankets

    6. In-flight entertainment (pretty typical)

    7. Special fuel cost fee (and why isn’t this simply part of the price???)

    I want the airlines to make money (I used to work for one). But this nickel-and-diming us to death with fees is truly obnoxious. It’s a intential game os bait and switch which is normally considered to be unfair/fraudulent.

    And if don’t think they collude on these policies, you’re not paying attention.

  • Stephanie

    No, passengers should stop using an airline if they are not happy with their pricing. That’s how the free market works.

  • bsimon


    Sen Klobuchar, I am disappointed.

    On the other hand, a comprehensive set of standards like what JBlilie describes makes some sense.

    In other words, a knee-jerk reaction that bans one annoying charge is inappropriate intervention. Defining a standard set of deliverables is not.

  • Gary F

    Just another nanny state law from the Democrats.

    So, if an airline wants to sell there services “ala carte” then why not?

    I can go elsewhere. I know it’s a concept that Democrats have a problem understanding, but the free market will make the decision whether people will put up with it.



  • Eiolg

    Ideally the market will sort this out, but in actuality, we don’t have much choice as to which airline we choose when flying from point A to point B. I’d personally vote for one free checked bag up to 50 pounds plus one small carry on bag up to a certain size and weight. After that, everybody can pay to take more, and pay a lot. Obviously people need certain personal items with them in a plane.

    Or maybe there would be a certain ticket price that assumes one checked bag plus one carry on, but if a person can fly with no bags at all, there would be a discount coupon given at the door of the plane toward a future flight.

  • Tony

    No. Airlines are doing what all big companies do: Gouge customers so the cuff-link crowd can stay comfortable.

    The real problem is that there is less competition. Recently Northwest was acquired by Delta. There is talk of more airline industry consolidation. Here is where the government can step in.

    One idea might be to stimulate the use of charter or air taxi services as an alternative to large airlines for some travel.

    The airplanes are smaller, but the service is more civilized, and the pilots generally have four times the experience that airline new-hires had just a few years ago, when airlines were hiring like crazy.

    Competition like this would create local jobs in communites across the nation; jobs that people in communities can see. Jobs for people who fuel and maintain the airplanes; jobs for the people who work behind the counters; jobs for rental car agencies.

    Let airlines charge what they want. Do something anti-trust-ish to spur competition.

  • Wjr

    There’s issues bigger than this one that our government should be focusing on.

  • bBb Seidel

    Federal regulation of transportation has existed for 150 years, beginning with steamboat inspections that put a term to the racing with safety valves tied down that caused many steamboat explosions, continuing through the regulation of rapacious railroad barons of the late 19th century, and continuing in the automobile age with speed limits, licensing and registration.

    The deregulation of the airline industry has not been quite the panacea that the market economists believed, which accounts for their need to add user fees for services that once were free. The public interest in airline safety would seem to suggest that to the extent that corwding cabines with carryon bags impedes the orderly escape from the cabin which must be assured, a fee that forces more crowding is a safety issue.

    If indeed Southwest Airlines flew everywhere one wished to go, then we could chose their feeless baggage checks when traveling by air. I choose to pay the fees rather than crowd my space with luggage, but I am in a better position to do so than most travelers. There are good reasons to regulate the fare structure of the airlines in the interest of public safety.

  • Jackypants

    I think that in the context of today’s news, the question is misleading. No one is proposing that the Federal Government should *stop* airlines from charging for carry-on luggage. The proposal is to provide financial disincentive for doing so. So long as the tax itself is not outrageous w/ reference to the additional charge being levied by the airlines, themselves, I don’t have a huge problem with this.

    For the government to say “No, you can’t, it’s illegal” would be over-stepping their bounds. To say, “Fine, but you have to pay an extra tax because this practice is total BS” is a more reasonable approach.

  • scott

    I agree with all those who think this issue is none of the government’s business, for all the reasons stated.

    If I were an airline executive, I’d handle the issue of fees for optional services differently. Instead of creating all these add-on charges, I’d establish a full-service fare, one which allows, say, one carry on and one checked bag, and provides soft drink and snack or meal service (depending on flight length). Then I’d allow passengers to choose to forego any services they didn’t want, and for each, provide a refund or discount.

    I think many people would be happier with an opportunity for a discount, than being forced to pay extra for something.

  • Mark

    I’ve been on two different flights in the last few months where I have heard flight attendants suggesting that they should charge for carry-on baggage and stop charging for checked bags. The current airline policies have the problems reversed. Since charging for checked bags, more people are trying to carry large and multiple bags on the plane creating longer waits and frustration by everyone just trying to get in their seats.

    No, the government shouldn’t stop airlines for charging for carry-ons; they should step in and point out this backwards policy to the airlines.

  • Shawn Tweten

    Such charges are business decisions and should not be government regulated. Let the consumer choose. However, companies should be upfront about such charges so people don’t get to the baggage point and find out they owe another $50.

  • Elizabeth


    Airlines should charge more for carry-on luggage. It’s the people who try to squeeze all of their over-sized belongings onto the plane that slow everything down for the rest of us.

    Instead, airlines should offer incentives for people to check their luggage!

  • Mike

    Government intervention in the market place is often needed as in healthcare, but it always excites resistance from a public that fears that the government is over reaching.

    The government should err on the side of inaction and not micro-manage airline fares. It should only get involved in the market place when there is a large tangible public benefit.

  • Scott


    The government should stay out of private business as much as possible. I certainly wouldn’t want them dictating the price I charge for my products or services.

  • Kirk D. Van Dorn

    I do not feel this is a matter for the government.

    If this nonsense doesn’t stop soon, however, I do (tongue in cheek) wonder how long it will be until we are removing our clothing not for security purposes, but to have it WEIGHED and charged for by the ounce.

  • Chuck

    No. Mark and Elizabeth nailed it. I always get a kick out of the announcement that requests that I put my one little bag where my feet were designed to rest, so that the “larger” bags can go in the overhead compartments. I check my baggage 99% of the time and only carry what I need for subsistence when stranded on a tarmac or within an airport. I never feel compelled to put my bag under the seat, and always use the available overhead compartment. I always enjoy how the airlines accomodate the people who are always pushing the envelope on carry-on baggage and make those of us who check our baggage suffer with getting rapped on the head with the errant suitcase or get clipped on the Achilles as those people struggle to get down the aisle with their “carry on”!

  • Dave F

    No. This is not what our elected officials should be spending their time on. Airline safety, sure, but this sounds like a great idea to me. Passengers, many of them frequent fliers, abuse the carry-on rules right now.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    No. Free-market competition will resolve the problem. The government really has no business getting involved, as it does not concern public safety or discriminate against anyone.

  • Linda

    No, the airline customers can do it by using another airline. Lose enough business and the airlines should get the message.

  • Comments texted to MPR at 677-677:

    Despite being an advocate of many government regulations of business, I am appalled that our senators are wasting time and money on the Spirit Airlines issue. Where’s the market failure? Let them charge their fees. This is ridiculous. -Bill, St. Paul

    Yes! I think the airlines need some incentive to stop finding ways to attach fees. Roll it up into the cost of a ticket please! -Kelsey, Minneapolis

    The government should absolutely not do anything to regulate the airlines charging for carry on bags. It’s robbery that they want to charge for any luggage, let alone carry-ons, but it’s not the government’s business. Let the free market settle this by flying on airlines that don’t charge for it. -Joe, Chanhassen

    It’s simple economics. Don’t like a service, don’t buy it. Find an alternative at a better price. -Kirk, Champlin

    No! Let the airlines compete and the consumers decide. Make government SMALLER. -Kevin Crystal, Chanhassen

    Yes however I’m afraid airlines will just pass the tax on to customers. -Mike Lang, Cottage Grove

    No! I travel light – with just carry-on – I don’t want to have that extra $25 in my ticket price. -John K., Thief River Falls

    Let supply and demand play out with the airlines. It is what has made our country great. -Scott Schwefel, Excelsior

    Normally I’d be all for taxing them more but it would probably just cause the companies to pass those costs onto consumers. -Kate Herberg, Mankato

    It is the government’s responsibility to level the playing field. The people are getting plundered by airlines, therefore the government must act. -anonymous

    No charge are bathrooms next? -anonymous

    Someone has to stop the madness! Carry-ons are out of control, I’m not against stricter restrictions of carry on however it’s not an option to not carry anything! Go back to charging elite members for the checked baggage if $ is the issue. -anonymous

    No! The fee is reprehensible but the market should be the one to punish. -anonymous

    Everybody hates airlines charging us for luggage but the government needs to stay out of it. That’s the nature of a free market economy! -anonymous

    NO, airline pricing strategies are none of the government’s business. Let the government stop its own fee gathering mess – all the new taxes. -anonymous

    The government should act because these fees are getting out of hands. Should we pay to use rest rooms on the plane? -anonymous

    PLEASE, No more government intervention necessary! We, the people, need to voice our displeasure using other (peaceful) methods. -anonymous

  • Mona Gustafson Affinito

    No. Years ago airlines started offering services to attract business. Now we think we are entitled to those services. We are not. Also, all one needs to do is fly a few times to realize what has happened with people trying to keep their luggage free by carrying on bigger and bigger bags. It’s a heavy, inconvenient mess. This issue belongs with the natural consequences of airline pricing policies, but my sympathy here is with the airlines.

    On the other hand, I can’t agree with the suggestion of no carry-on luggage, as if anyone would seriously consider that. People carry things they need for health and comfort, as I used to do when I still wore contact lenses.

  • Carlos Gutierrez


    And if you don’t like the $45 Spirit Air charges for handheld baggage you either take another airline, don’t bring hand luggage, or walk. But you don’t ask the government to eliminate airline fees so that we have to bail them out when they loose money.

    Carlos Gutiérrez


    CNC Mortgage LLC

    cell 612 859 2145

  • kennedy

    Add me to the list of “No” votes. Let the airlines charge what they will and let the consumers choose what to do.

  • James

    No, If our government has not noticed we have a few bigger fish to fry. Like THE ECONOMY!,, TWO foreign WARS, Unemployment, Terrorists, Climate Change, and about 3 trillion other higher priority targets. Come on .GOV do something useful with OUR tax dollars.


  • MikeD

    As long as the customer is told before purchasing a ticket it is OK. It is preferable to charge more for carryon luggage than for checked luggage. It would speed the security and boarding and unboarding processes.

  • Gregory

    The Government should enforce minimum standards for common carriers. I have no sympathy for those who bring huge bags that should have been checked. But I do have sympathy for those who carry on small “survival” bags. What constitues survival bag contents is up to the passenger of course. (With meals being charged, I expect more and more passengers will carry bag lunches.) There is NO WAY passengers should be charged for the “privilage” of using the toilet. That can only lead to untoward behaviors on the part of those traveling on a shoestring, or who have some psychopathology. Industry reps should meet with Government to reach such standards voluntarily, but if that cannot be acheived, then a legislative solution is warranted.

  • Lisa

    So it’s $25 to check a bag, and now there’s a fee to *not* check it? What if we strap it on top of the plane–would that work? Or should we buy our suitcase a seat too?

    I don’t think this is a gov’t issue (yet), but neither do I see the “market taking care of” the problem. These days, most people have to fly at some point. Work and spread-out families require it, and trains, buses, and cars aren’t always a reasonable alternative, so the airlines win, and consumers lose…and lose…and lose some more.

    To an earlier poster’s comment that charging a fee isn’t discriminatory: I’m not so sure. What about people whose disabilities or health conditions require them to bring equipment or medication or other supplies onboard?

    I’d rather see all airlines charge a fair price and offer discounts for behaviors they’d like to encourage, or charge extra for special products/services like upgrades. Transporting a passenger’s luggage is not a “special service.”

  • Joey

    The free market would sort this out if we had a free market. Instead we have a near-monopoly by every carrier, so as soon as those few airlines agree on a policy, the customer has no choice but to follow it (not even you, Gary F).

    The carry-on fee is not the problem. We should instead address the domination of necessary industries by small groups of corporate titans. Remember “too large to fail”? Same problem.

  • Joan

    Whenever a company is doing something that does not seem to make market sense – such as aggravating their customers through numerous add-on fees – one needs to look further to see what else might explain the behavior. The reason that airlines charge extra “fees” for bags (checked or carried on) is because the airlines DO NOT PAY TAXES on these fees. However, they do pay taxes on air fares. Thus, they have a tax incentive to charge fees instead of including all charges in the air fare. Government policy is influencing the behavior of the private market through the tax structure. Instead of prohibiting certain fees, the government should eliminate the tax incentive to charge extra fees by taxing both the “air fare” and the “fees” at the same rate.

  • Julie

    NO. This would only make it worse. Now passengers take outrageous carry-on bags because they must pay to check. This slows loading and inconveniences everyone. Airlines say they’ll allow smaller carry-ons, that fit under the seat. That’s enough! Better plan is to check one bag free and charge for carry-ons that must go in the bins. And anyway the government shouldn’t get involved.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Maybe airlines should charge for the total weight of the passenger & all the baggage together. That might help with the obesity epidemic, too.

  • Julia W Robinson

    There are two issues involved in this question. One is whether or not airlines should be free to charge extra fees. The other issue is how the traveler can predict and compare the costs of flying different airlines.

    While I think the airlines should be free to charge fees, I think it is obvious that the government needs to play a role in transparency of the total costs to fly. Airlines need to be required to include in their posted rates all services normally provided for a given flight. If airlines choose to charge fees for going to the toilet, for any baggage, the government should define what services should be included, and any fees assessed on top of the fare should be included in the publicized flight cost. So, if people normally can check one bag and take on two carry on items, if people usually use the toilet once every 3 hours during a flight, and eat every four hours, these fees should be included in the publicized flight cost. That way, government is not dictating what airlines can charge fees for, but just making sure that the fees are understandable when travelers compare prices between airlines.

  • Dave

    Should the government act to stop airlines from charging for carry-on bags? No. Same answer, by the way, when they start installing pay toilets, charging $5 for a bag with three peanuts in it, and letting you board first for a $7 fee, etc.

    Rest assurred that they will do all of that stuff if they think they can get away with it. And, they’ll dream up even more ways to nickel and dime us all to death. They’ll keep doing it until the traveling public makes them stop.

    The way to do that is to not fall for their “low fare” loss leader come-ons. We need to let them know that we’re not fooled by a $49 fare to Chicago if it’s accompanied by a $45 fee to check your first bag and another $50 to check the second, plus another $45 to carry on your camera bag, and $1 each time one of the kids needs to go to the bathroom. By all rights, they should price the tickets to cover their financial need. But they don’t. Know why the don’t? Because IT WORKS!

    I am forced to fly by my job. I’m not happy about that, but it’s what I signed up for. But, I refuse to be an accomplice in this deceptive behavior by flying when I don’t have to. More people do that, they’ll stop.

  • Tom

    Absolutely not. This is an easy one. Government should stay out of this. The Senate should turn its attention to cleaning up its own act and let the airlines worry about baggage. How about getting busy on the long list of judicial nominations which have been held up in the Senate.

  • Craig

    Of course the government has right and the responsibility to regulate interstate commerce and protect the citizen and consumer. This is one form of oversight that I would truly welcome.

  • R Godollei

    Yes, the government should act to protect consumers. Examples of necessary carry-on items include mothers’ baby gear, medicines and medical equipment, food they no longer provide you with, a change of clothes in case they lost your bag and your electronic gear which is not guaranteed replaceable in checked luggage. I don’t want to be charged extra for things I really do have to carry. Those who advocate a fee for carry-on and free checked bags should think twice. More checked bags means you get off the plane fast but wait forever in baggage claim for all the extra bags they lost, opened without you present, possibly pilfered from and maybe never even put on your plane.

  • Tom

    No! Consumers are smart enough to vote, with our dollars! This question is so absurd, I’m afraid the MPR is over the edge….

  • Steve

    Why is it that Minnesotans like being nickle and dimed to death?

  • DMays

    No. Let the invisible hand take care of it.

  • Benjamin Jay

    No. The government should handle this after more important priorities…

    Such as reimbursing customers who have to listen to screaming kids, sit next to people who overflow their own seats, or smell the fragrant aroma of those who seem to have beliefs against bathing.

    Really… Someone who is willing to fly without ANY luggage should pay less than someone who wastes their time and others stuffing junk into overhead bins, plus makes the plane carry more weight.

  • Mary

    No. The issue is not worthy of a government intervention. Air travel is a consumer choice, not a right. Travelers should not be surprised that airlines are adding fees for the ‘extras’ we’ve all grown to take for granted. This seems to be an example where consumers are beginning to pay a truer cost for services.

  • JAPF

    The invisible hand (of the market) ?!!! How naïve can ideologists get? Why don’t you wait it out on a tarmac, sitting immobile in a sit as wide as your arse, with overflowing toilets and no food, for 3, 4, 5, 6 … hours ? In fact, next thing coming up … charging for use of lavatories.

  • Elaine E

    it is all well and good for the nay sayers in the fifty continental united states to talk about competition, and choosing airlines who don’t charge the fees. But what does one do when you are in a territory of the U.S., classified as international countries, treated like second class citizens, and still made to pay this checked baggage fee? Choices are so limited, that even if your destination is an actual international destination,the route is set in such a way that you either have to overnight (which requires chekin) or you have to change planes in miami hence, checkin again. I personally feel that this is very unfair to consumers- that the airlines should be regulated, to have at least one checked piece without charge. I hope that one of those law firms picks up on that and file a lawsuit, and hope it includes the credit reporting agencies as well.