Ancillary airline fees are in a seemingly endless spiral up. We find them annoying and, even when we can afford to pay them, we just don’t like to. Since we last updated checked bag fees on Hawaii Flights only 9 months ago, you won’t be surprised to learn that they have started to increase again.
2020 increases, with a twist, are in process.
This started last month when non-Hawaii airline Jet Blue began the latest round of increases. That was followed last week by United Airlines, including on Hawaii flights, as shown below. That will undoubtedly be followed by the other airlines as well.
The twist this year, is that bag fees will in part be based on when you pay. In order to avoid the new increase, passengers on United need to prepay for checked bags. So long as you pay before checking in online, the prior bag fees of $30 and $40 will, at least at this time, still be in effect.
Part of the game here is also to drive loyalty credit cards with annual fees, in order to help you avoid checked bag fees on flights to Hawaii.
What have you been doing about bag fees, if anything?
We continue to rethink packing when traveling to and from Hawaii, and at least in part that is to help reduce bag fees. For one thing, last year we bought new carry-on’s that really help and have avoided problems (see tips and tricks below).
Since last we checked, these fees became standard across all airlines, with the lone exception of Southwest Hawaii flights. It seems hard to avoid them when coming to Hawaii given the average stay duration and distance. All airline fees have been on the increase since their introduction ten years ago, and last year, it was estimated that they amounted to $5 billion in the US alone. Read on for our updated checked bag fees by airlines for flights to Hawaii.
1. Checked bags fees Hawaii Flights (effective 2/2020):
With the exception of Southwest, checked bag fees increased 20% in 2019 and are starting the processing of going up another 17% this year.
United Airlines: $35
$30 first bag, $45 $40 second bag. Change takes effect for travel beginning March 6, 2020.
Here are where the other airlines stand. We expect to see all airlines (except Southwest) increase checked bag fees soon.
Alaska Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.
American Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.
Delta Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.
Hawaiian Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.
Southwest Airlines No charge for first two checked bags. (Best checked bag deal).
2. How much airlines that fly to Hawaii made on bag fees in 2019.
These amounts are based on the latest report from the US government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Alaska Airlines: $250 Million.
American Airlines: $1 Billion. Side note: American made the most money yet lost or mishandled 1 million bags last year.
Delta Airlines: $783 Million.
Hawaiian Airlines: $65 Million.
Southwest Airlines $39 Million.
United Airlines: $772 Million.
3. Tips and Tricks for Carry-on and Checked bags.
Use a larger carry-on that still fits in airline overheads (22 x 14 x 9). Warning: be sure to check the actual dimensions (rather than the quoted dimensions) when purchasing luggage. Most luggage companies measure without including the wheel protrusion. The airlines, on the other hand, measure total exterior dimensions including wheels. Frequently, a 22″ carry-on actually has a dimension of over 23″.
Consider newer carry-on’s that weigh about half what they did even a few years ago. We replaced 10 lb bags with 6 lb bags. On Hawaiian Airlines for example, our new full-size 22″ (measured) carry-on fits directly into the overhead both inter-island and trans-Pacific. Check what size will fit on the airline and plane type that you’ll be flying.
You won’t need as much clothing as you think in Hawaii. One sweater or sweatshirt, long pants and athletic shoes worn on the plane are generally adequate for staying warm during all seasons in Hawaii. A shell (no liner) for rain also helps year round. The remaining clothes can be lightweight, mostly shorts, shirts and sandals. Dressing beyond “resort casual” is less common in Hawaii.
Do plan some for some laundry while you’re here. Many if not most Hawaii accommodations have laundry facilities on location or nearby. The exception is generally the better hotels; although even many highly rated hotels have added a guest laundry. Without laundry facilities, quick washing can be done in a sink (consider packing a 1-2 ounce container of liquid dish washing soap), and a drying line in the bathroom is either provided or can be improvised. Have you tried the incredible travel clothes we fancy from Ex Officio? They wash in the sink, dry in a few hours and always look sharp.
Use the hotel beach towels. Bringing your own takes up valuable luggage space. Use the hotel towels and drop them off on your day of departure en route to the airport. Or, consider a fast-dry travel towel. We find those very handy after checking out, and then heading to the beach before the airport.
White clothes stay home. They don’t mix very well with either the unavoidable red dirt here in Hawaii or other stains. That is especially true for shoe soles.
Keep track of the weight of your carry-on (and your checked luggage). Airlines are beginning to enforce carry-on weight limits, so be prepared in case they do. We just saw that when flying interisland on Mokulele Airlines. A portable luggage scale is essential, and just keeps on working trip after trip.
Join the airline’s loyalty program. For example, Hawaiian Air’s frequent flyer membership will get you a $10 savings on the first checked bag and $15 saving on the second on interisland flights. We suggest signing up for membership prior to purchasing Hawaiian Airlines tickets.
Check airline credit card programs. Many of these offer free checked bags, upgrades, other perks worth investigating.
Beat of Hawaii photo at Waikiki.