Air Canada’s Audacious Luggage Math

In yesterday’s Globe, I read an article about how Air Canada is now charging passengers $25 to check a second piece of luggage. This, of course, is the latest in a long series of indignities that travellers have had to suffer at the hands of the struggling airline.

I was amused by a sidebar accompanying the article (you can see it at the bottom of the online version) which discussed fees for various ‘premium’ services on Air Canada. Here’s what some of those numbers look like for a North American flight:

Check more than two bags: $100
Check two bags: $25
Check one bag: $0
Check zero bags: You save, get this, $3.

How baldfaced is that? Air Canada cites “record high and unrelenting fuel costs” for the new fee. If the price of fuel is driving this pricing, then shouldn’t one less bag be worth as much to the consumer as one more bag costs the airline?

And the third bag is even more ridiculous. I’d bet that processing subsequent bags doesn’t cost as much as the first. After all, the clerk is already processing one. The third bag shouldn’t cost three times the second, it should cost less than the second.

There’s also a $100 fee for overweight bags (from 23 to 32 kg). I should mention that 23 kg is a lot of bag. When we left to live abroad for a year, my huge backpack only weighed 17 kg.

I know the fees are aimed at discouraging travellers from bringing a lot of luggage, but that pricing seems hilariously audacious.


  1. Pretty much every bad airline experience I’ve had was on air canada. One of the worst was when they stranded me in Toronto overnight and didn’t care enough to help me out at all.

  2. Air Canada and Telus are two Canadian companies that are always just a hair off the “getting it”. Maybe it’s because of their history as spin-offs of public corporations, but in the world of authentic customer conversations (a la Cluetrain Manifesto), it’s a little like talking with the Asperger’s cousin at the family picnic. You know there are some really bright bring cells trapped inside, they just don’t know how to do it. Each conversation falls slightly … flat. This example is just one of those awkward conversations. Just gotta get used to talking slower and louder and hoping that some of what you say gets through.

  3. I have been amazed for years that other airlines haven’t been able to completely eat Air Canada’s lunch.

    Oh yeah, they don’t serve lunch anymore.

    Anyway, I guess Air Canada still so dominates Canada’s airspace that they can continue to do what the heck they want, for now.

  4. they might try to justify the cost by saying that the weight of all the second bags per passenger requires more fuel, but it’s still a bullshit excuse. air canada is an enormous pain in the butt.

  5. We get what we pay for. As the relative fares have decreased, so has the service. The baggage thing we saw coming from the “leaders” south of the border.
    The charge for the second bag only comes into play at the lowest fare levels. If you choose to pay a bit higher fare, then the second bag is still free. AC has always charged me for overweight luggage, even though it still sometimes gets lost along the way.
    I do notice that when I get the occasional trip in Executive class, the service is great, the meals are good, and my bags arrive promptly at destination.
    We wanted “cheap” transportation. We got what we asked for.

  6. One more thing, Air Canada has a maximum bag size (length+width+height) of 62 inches. Bring a 63 inch bag and you’ll pay $100 extra.

    But try to buy a trunk to take yourself to University, and guess what? The standard trunk sizes are way too small or — wait for it — 31x16x16 = 63 inches!

    Do you suppose Air Canada knew that when they set the maximum no-extra-charge size at 62 inches?

  7. I am just a little agitated right now after the shock what I just heard from the Air Canada personnel involved in reservations. The trip to the destination did not require any bags to check in so the box on the web site that no bags to be checked was chosen. The ticket for no checked baggage saves you $3 (big whoop) but if you do change your mind the price of checking in a bag goes up to $50. To make a long story short just forget about that savings of $3 and say that you have luggage to check in even though you don’t. Who knows you might have to bring extra things at the last minute.

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