Qantas baggage fee changes: don’t panic, just pack better

Angus Kidman 1 November 2016

ExcessBaggage_Shutterstock

Qantas' charges have gone up, but why are you travelling with so much junk in the first place?

Last week, Qantas made some changes to its baggage fees, putting up its fares for people who exceed the existing baggage allowances. This was reported breathlessly in some quarters as "Qantas is pushing the amount it charges passengers for excess baggage up by 75%". Well, no. There are enough caveats and qualifications for that to qualify as a gross exaggeration.

Firstly, the changes only affect domestic flights, so your shopping binge trip to the US won't be directly affected. Secondly, just one of the fees that has risen is going up by 75%. Here's a table of what actually changed on 28 October and by how much:

ChargeOld chargeNew charge% change
Extra item of baggage booked online in advance$30$3517%
1st extra item of baggage booked at airport$40$7075%
Additional extra item of baggage booked at airport$60$9050%
Heavy fee for bags over 23kg$30$5067%

So one fee is up by 75%, one by 67%, one by 50% and one by 17%. Not thrilling by any means, but not an across-the-board 75% rise.

The changes mean that Qantas' domestic baggage fees now match Virgin. Thus the status quo is maintained: we have two full-service domestic airlines which give you at least one item of checked baggage free (Qantas and Virgin) plus other goodies like free Wi-Fi and meals, and two that have cheaper basic fares but no built-in checked baggage allowance (Jetstar and Tigerair).

More to the point: if you're routinely booking extra items of baggage, especially on domestic flights, you're doing travel wrong. I have weekends away all the time with nothing more than the checked baggage allowance, and I don't need to exceed the 7kg carry-on allowance to do it. That's true even when I'm taking a laptop, which is usually the case (yes, that's tragic, but that's an argument for another day).

And if you know you'll need those extra bags, book them in advance. It's half the price. This is not rocket science, folks.

I don't doubt that one reason for this fare increase is, if only indirectly, to compensate for the lower credit card booking fees that Qantas is now obliged to charge. But whatever the business reason, the lesson for consumers is clear: travel smarter by packing lighter and you'll travel cheaper.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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