Big baggage change for Jetstar customers
From tomorrow, discount carrier Jetstar is jacking up its checked baggage fees for domestic passengers.
If you show up at the airport for a domestic flight and want to check in luggage that hasn't been pre-booked, you'll be charged $60 for the privilege, up from $50 currently. If your checked bag weighs more than 15kg, you'll also have to pay $15 for each extra kilo.
That means for a 32kg suitcase, the biggest single item allowed, you'd potentially end up paying a massive $315 simply to check it in.
Jetstar's move, while annoying, is typical of a budget carrier sector, where much of the profit comes from extra charges for services like baggage, seat selection and in-flight meals.
Tigerair has an even more aggressive fee scale, and lifted its prices in December last year. Checked baggage that isn't pre-booked costs $75 for short domestic flights (under 2 hours) and $90 for longer flights. Its excess weight charges are also higher, at $20 per kilo for short flights and $25 per kilo for longer flights.
That means a Sydney-Perth flight with a 32kg bag checked at the airport without pre-booking would cost $515. At that price, you would likely have been better off booking with Qantas or Virgin, which as full-service airlines offer free checked baggage.
Analysis by finder.com.au shows that the rates are much more affordable if you book your checked baggage when you buy your ticket. Prices for checked baggage booked with your flight start at $15 for Jetstar and $15.50 for Tigerair. That's a quarter of what you'll pay at the airport for Jetstar.
If you book separately from your ticket but before you reach the airport, prices kick off at $32 for Jetstar and $24.50 for Tigerair, depending on the route. That's higher, but still well below the at-airport charges.
So the lesson is a simple one: if you know you'll need checked baggage, book it with your flight.
Final tip: Don't assume you'll be able to get away with overloading your carry-on luggage. Both Jetstar and Tigerair have a strict policy of no more than two items with a combined weight of 7kg, and staff regularly check and weigh bags at the gate.