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Hawaii's go! joins "charge-per-bag" club

go! adding $25 charge for second checked bag

Jun 26, 2008

It will soon cost $25 more to carry a canoe paddle, fishing gear, extra gift bag or any other form of second checked-in luggage when flying on go! airline.

Starting July 15, go! will begin charging a baggage service fee to carry a second checked-in bag on all interisland flights due to soaring fuel costs.

While several major U.S. carriers have added new baggage charges on Mainland flights in recent weeks, go! becomes the first interisland carrier to charge a fee for passengers who carry a second checked-in bag.

"This is happening on the Mainland, and they're saying we might as well do it, too," said local aviation industry historian Peter Forman.

"It's just another chipping away at the amenities in air travel and making the flight experience less enjoyable. Unfortunately, it's part of the general trend in the airline industry."

Hawaiian Airlines, the state's largest carrier, did not immediately match the extra baggage fee but said it is studying the matter.

In April, Hawaiian began charging a $25 fee for a second checked-in bags on its Mainland to Hawai'i flights.

In a news release yesterday, go! said the fee is due to "the radical increase in fuel costs."

During the past year, the price for jet fuel has doubled from about $2 a gallon to more than $4 a gallon, adding millions of dollars in annual costs for the local airlines.

"Our industry is burdened with fuel expenses far beyond expectations, and we have instituted this charge furthering our efforts to provide go! passengers with options instead of raising the overall cost of interisland travel," said Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive officer of Mesa Air Group, which owns go!

go! said its corporate club members, customers traveling on government fares and go!Express passengers flying from Kapalua, Kona, Lana'i and Moloka'i will not have to pay the new baggage service fee.

Items such as car seats, carriers and strollers and wheelchairs and other personal assistive devices are also exempt from the fee, the company said.

Forman, author of the 2005 book "Wings of Paradise: Hawai'i's Incomparable Airlines," said the new fee is a way of increasing revenues without raising fares.

But he said the fee will essentially amount to a fare increase for many tourists and local passengers since both groups tend to travel heavy when flying interisland.

According to Forman, the size of go!'s planes may be a factor in the new charge.

go! currently flies Bombardier CRJ-200 jets, which seat 50 passengers. Those planes have less baggage space than Hawaiian's Boeing 717-200 aircraft, which seat 123 passengers.

The new baggage fee comes as interisland fares have soared in the wake of rising fuel prices and the March 31 shutdown of Aloha Airlines.

During the past year, Hawaiian and go! have raised the standard interisland ticket prices several times to about $64 each way. That's a 64 percent increase from the $39 basic fare of a year ago.

go! adding $25 charge for second checked bag

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