Allegiant Air is set to become the second major U.S. airline to charge passengers a fee to bring carry-on luggage on flights.
Allegiant — a low-cost airline that flies out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and several Florida cities, among others — will begin collecting a fee of up to $35 per bag Wednesday morning.
Andrew Levy, president of the airline's parent company, Allegiant Travel Co. in Las Vegas, announced the new fee in an email to employees Friday, saying the changes are part of "an ongoing effort to develop an innovative, new approach to travel."
Levy's message does not mention the airline's financial situation, but Allegiant's latest financial report shows that fuel costs increased nearly 36% in 2011 from the previous year and net income fell nearly 25%.
In adopting the fee, Allegiant follows Spirit Airlines, which in 2010 became the first major airline in the U.S. to charge a fee for carry-on bags that do not fit under the seat.
Although its carry-on fee of as much as $45 earned Spirit harsh criticism from passenger groups, airline analysts noted that the Florida airline reported a 10% to 12% profit margin in the nine months after the fee was added, a much higher margin than that of most of its larger competitors.
Allegiant said the carry-on bag fee will be $10 to $35, depending on the route and when the passenger pays it, with those waiting till the last minute paying the maximum. As with Spirit Airlines, passengers on Allegiant will be allowed to carry smaller items — such as briefcases, purses or laptops — for free as long as they fit under the seat or in their lap.
Under the airline's new policy, the fee allows each passenger to store one carry-on bag in the overhead bin. The bags cannot weigh more than 25 pounds or be more than 9 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 22 inches deep.