Paying for carry-on bags? It could happen on major airlines.

Might major airlines like United someday charge for carry-on bags? It could happen, an executive at another airline says. Photo: M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

Might major airlines like United someday charge for carry-on bags? It could happen, an executive at another airline says. Photo: M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

Could you someday have to pay for carry-on bags on United, American and Delta?

Andrew Levy, president and chief operating officer at Allegiant Air, says he thinks you will. His airline, known for selling deeply discounted coach tickets mainly to and from leisure destinations, has been charging for all but the smallest carry-on bags since 2012. So far, in the United States, only Allegiant and competitor Spirit are charging for cabin bags.

“I would be shocked if in three years we were still the only ones charging for carry-on bags,” Levy told me in an interview last month. “I think if you are platinum medallion on Delta you ‘ll never pay for those. But if I’m ‘Joe Blow’ who only flies twice a year, I’ll always pay.”

You probably don’t believe him. But keep in mind, Allegiant was among the first carriers to charge for checked baggage, making customers pay for bags well before American Airlines shocked passengers in 2008 with the new fee. A fee that was almost immediately copied by every major airline except Southwest.

That could happen again with carry-on bags.

“I personally believe it is inevitable that there will be a charge for carry on bags,” Levy said. “I think it will be a widely adopted fee. But we’ll see. I could be wrong. But the industry has been moving pretty consistently toward where we are and where Spirit is. I don’t think it will stop.”

Charging for carry-on bags is beneficial for airlines in a couple of ways, Levy said. The first one is obvious. The airlines make money off of something that used to be free. The second is a slightly harder to quantify. But if charging for bags means passengers bring less stuff, airplanes will presumably fly at lighter weights.  And over time, that lighter planes can bring some fuel savings.

For many passengers, the key is that an airline’s best customers will actually be rewarded by this move. First, they’ll end up getting a perk, since they almost certainly won’t have to pay to use the overhead bin. Second, the bins will have more space than they do now, since passengers will no longer have an incentive to avoid checking luggage.

What do you think? Do you agree with Levy’s prediction? And do you think airlines should charge for carry-on bags?

And check back next week for more of Levy’s thoughts on ancillary revenue products.

 

 

 

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Will a new terminal mean more passengers for Burbank Bob Hope Airport?

Burbank Bob Hope Airport is exploring building a new 14-gate terminal. Photo: Burbank Airport.

Burbank Bob Hope Airport is exploring building a new 14-gate terminal. Photo: Burbank Airport.

Within the next decade, Burbank Bob Hope Airport wants to build a new terminal with all the goodies passengers have come to expect, like spacious gate areas, plenty of power outlets and popular concession brands. Early plans call for a 14-gate terminal with about 350,000 square feet, making it about  150,000 square feet larger than the current building.

This is old news. But for a story published today, I wanted to know whether the new terminal might help Burbank Airport reverse its slide in passenger traffic. The quaint facility built in 1930 is not thriving. In 2013, Bob Hope Airport served 3.88 million passengers, a decline of 5.2 percent from the previous year. At the airport’s peak, in 2007, more than 5.9 million passenger used it.

So will a fancy new building — one that might cost between $300 and $400 million — reverse Burbank’s decline? Not likely, experts say.

“The problem is the communities want to have a good front door and that’s nonsense,” said Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation industry consultant. “The best airport is the one that the customer doesn’t remember. Unless you have asbestos falling from the ceiling or rats chewing away the ticket counters, you don’t build a new terminal and get more traffic.”

Burbank’s problem isn’t really its terminal. The problem is Los Angeles International Airport, where four major airlines — United, American, Delta and Southwest — are vying for market share. That’s where the air service expansion is coming.

“You have something called LAX you can get to reasonably easily that has a whole lot more air service and airlines,” Boyd told me. “LAX is the giant sucking sound.”

If Burbank is to thrive again, some say, it will to be because LAX has reached its breaking point. No one is sure when that will be, but LAX is on pace to break its all-time passenger traffic record this year. It was set in 2000 at 67.3 million passengers.

““We don’t really believe that building a new terminal building is going to induce new service,” Burbank airport Executive Director Dan Feger said. “What we do think over time is that over time the congestion of LAX will drive passengers to Burbank.”

What do you think? Are Boyd and Feger right? Will Burbank only thrive again when LAX can’t handle more air traffic? Or is it possible that a new terminal will make the airport more popular?

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Passenger traffic at LAX jumped 7.3 percent between January 2013 and January 2014

LAX had an impressive January in passenger traffic. Photo: Brad Graverson.

LAX had an impressive January in passenger traffic. Photo: Brad Graverson.

Los Angeles International Airport could be on pace for a record year in passenger traffic, according to statistics released this week.

LAX accommodated 5.4 million passengers in January, an increase of 7.3 percent compared to January 2013. The airport did this despite the fact that January, especially the first two weeks, is a notoriously slow time for air travel.

In 2013, LAX set an all-time record for international traffic, with 17.9 million international travelers. It had set the previous record of 17.5 million in 2005. But LAX has still yet to match its overall pre-9/11 peak of 67.3 million. Last year, it accommodated 66.7 million total passengers.

Where’s the growth coming from? Everywhere except Terminal 4 (American Airlines and American Eagle), Terminal 6 (Alaska and United) and Terminal 8 (United and United Express), according to the data.

The biggest jump in the airport’s nine terminals? That happened in Terminal 5, where Delta has been expanding its number of flights. The number of passengers in Terminal 5 rose 28.37 percent from January 2013 to January 2014. In real numbers, the passenger count increased from 525,208 to 674,234.

This is good news for the Los Angeles economy. But I’ve heard from people who used LAX in the late 1990s that the traffic in the Central Terminal Area could get horrendous. There’s only so much space for cars to go. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to traffic as the number of passengers continues to grow. (And barring changes in the economy or market forces it will — airlines are bullish on LAX these days.)

For my data inclined readers, here’s the full report:

Los Angeles International Airport Air Traffic report

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United Express flight returns to LAX with landing gear issue

A Skywest Airlines Embraer E120 returned to Los Angeles International Airport this morning with landing gear issues and was met by fire rescue crews, officials said. The plane landed safely at 8:12 a.m. and taxied to the gate.

The flight was branded as United Express Flight 6320 and was bound for San Diego.

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More on United Airlines new flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne

United will fly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. Photo: United.

United will fly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. Photo: United.

United Airlines on Thursday confirmed it will begin flying from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia on Oct 26, six times per week using Boeing 787-9s. Some highlights from the press release.

  • This will be the first regular scheduled flight for United’s 787-9s. The Boeing 787s the airline is now using on L.A.-Shanghai and L.A-Tokyo are 787-8s. What’s the difference? Well, according to Boeing, the 787-9 is bigger. The newer version also has slightly longer range – 8,185 nautical miles, according to Boeing.
  • The flight to Melbourne will not operate on Tuesday, traditionally a slow day for some business travel. The return flight does not operate on Thursdays.
  • United says flights will take about 15 hours, 45 minutes westbound, and 14 hours, 35 minutes eastbound.
  • United now flies a short flight between Melbourne and Sydney — what’s known in industry terms as a tag. United will no longer fly that route.
  •  The 787-9 will have 252 seats – 48 in business class and 204 in Economy. Included in that economy total is 63 premium economy seats. (The 787-8 has 219 seats.)
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