Air Canada to charge economy-class passengers for second checked bag on US trans-border, trans-Atlantic flights

Friday, December 4, 2009, 18:10 by Jose Philip

Air Canada, the flag-carrier airline of Canada, has announced that it will begin charging the economy-class passengers for a second a checked bag on the United Stats trans-border flights and on trans-Atlantic flights.

One checked bag is free, but Air Canada will charge, for a second bag, $30 for US trans-border flights, and $50 for its flights to Europe and Israel.

According to a statement from Air Canada, the biggest airline in Canada, the charges will apply to new economy-class tickets – Latitude Fares, Tango, and Tango Plus – bought for flights on or after January 19, 2010.

However, the new fees for the second checked bag are not applicable to domestic flights or flights to South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia and Australia.

Members of Air Canada’s Elite, Super Elite, Prestige, Silver and Gold, and Star Alliance also have been exempted from paying fees for a second checked bag, Ben Smith, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer of Air Canada, explained in the statement.

Air Canada’s Executive Class and Executive First passengers will continue to get allowance of 3 checked bags on all flights, irrespective of destination.

Peter Fitzpatrick, spokesman of Air Canada, told reporters that the airline has been compelled to “continue reviewing its policies and activities” in the backdrop of a weak global economy. Most airlines based in the United States and Europe are already charging fees for a secondary checked bag, he added.

According to Fitzpatrick, around 20% all North American passengers check a second bag on flights.

In fact, Air Canada, based in Montreal, had started charging a fee of $25 for a second-checked bag in 2008 for all ‘Tango’ fares and ‘Tango Plus’ fares on all its North American flights, but it was discontinued after about 5 months.

Air Canada’s new fees for a second checked baggage follows the carrier’s decision to charge its passengers additional fees for preferred seats with extra legroom – including bulkhead seats and emergency-exit rows.

The airline, had, however, scrapped call-centre fees and eased standby rules in the Montreal-Toronto-Ottawa corridor.

Air Canada said it is making efforts to collect $500 million in extra revenues and cost-savings as a part of its effort to enhance profitability.

Air Canada operates services to over 170 destinations globally. It is the 13th biggest commercial carrier in the world, and flies about 33 million passengers each year.

Meanwhile, WestJet Airlines, the low-cost airline based in Canada and Air Canada’s rival, said it has no plans to change, in the near future, its policy of 2 free checked bags.