Last updated: 03:30 PM ET, Thu July 30 2015

Southwest To Keep Free Bags Policy

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | July 30, 2015

Southwest To Keep Free Bags Policy

Bags fly free on Southwest Airlines.

Bags have always flown free on Southwest, bags currently fly free on Southwest, and bags will continue to fly free on Southwest in the future.

So says airline CEO Gary Kelly.

Speaking at the Global Business Travel Association annual convention this week, Kelly said he has no intentions of abandoning Southwest’s policy of not charging for the first two checked bags – even though airlines are raking in the bucks on ancillary fees and Southwest’s competitor, JetBlue, recently instituted bag fees.

That leaves Southwest as the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t charge for baggage.

And Kelly revels in it.

"Who wouldn't want to be the only competitor doing a certain thing?" he said at the panel discussion.

Airlines brought in $3.5 billion in baggage fees in 2014 and appear to be on target to match that again. During the first quarter of this year, the airlines collected $864 million from bag fees according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Since the notion that "bags fly free" has been such a selling and marketing point, Kelly said he didn’t want to lose that differentiator by charging for bags.

So far, it hasn’t cost Southwest. The airline posted net second quarter income of $608 million, compared with net income of $465 million during the same period last year.


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