Delta Air Lines to charge $15 for first checked bag

Friday, November 7, 2008, 18:52 by Aviation Correspondent

Delta Air Lines, which took over Northwest Airlines on October 29, 2008, has decided to charge a fee of $15 to check a first bag for customers flying in the United States.

Among the major airlines in the United States, Delta Air Lines was the only one not to have charged fee for checking a first bag.

The fee for first checked bag will primarily affect passengers flying on discount-class and economy-class tickets.

However, Delta Air Lines said in a statement that the carrier would cut other fees as it aligns its policies with those of Northwest Airlines.

Delta’s decision, which will take effect immediately, applies to travel on or after December 5, 2008. Customers flying in the United States will be charged $15 for a first checked bag and $25 for a second checked bag when travelling domestically,

consistent with policies of Northwest Airlines, the statement from Delta Air Lines explained.

However, customers who bought Delta tickets on or before November 5, 2008, and who are travelling on or after December 5, 2008, will be charged $50 for a second bag, but can check their first bag for free, in line with Delta Air Lines’ previous policy.

At the same time, customers flying in first-class or business-class can check up to 3 bags weighing as much as 70 pounds free of charge.

It may be noted that Delta Air Lines had done away with fuel surcharges of $25 to $100 for frequent travellers, introduced earlier in 2008, by both Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines in their efforts to cope with high costs of aviation turbine fuel.

Delta Air Lines, based and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States operates an extensive domestic and international network, spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. It is the only major United States-based carrier that flies to Africa.

Northwest Airlines, the principal subsidiary of Northwest Airlines Corporation, is headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, near Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport in the United States.

Stephen Gorman, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Delta Air Lines, was quoted by the media as saying: “Delta is adopting proven practices from both Delta and Northwest that have been broadly accepted in the marketplace.”

Delta Air Lines, Stephen Gorman said, would install a “coach choice” programme, like the one at Northwest Airlines.

The “coach choice” programme allows passengers to select seats in certain parts of the plane, like the aisle, window or exit rows, for fees of $5 to $25, depending on the location of the seats and destination of their flights.

However, elite members of the frequent-flier programmes would still be able to select the seats without charge.

Stephen Gorman said the company expects to combine the operations of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines completely over the next 12 to 24 months.