Southwest may start charging baggage fees


Could baggage fees be in the Southwest Airlines’ future?

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly did not rule out fees for first and second bags during a Tuesday conference call on Southwest’s earnings.

Dallas-based Southwest has not followed other airlines with such fees as the sector struggles with weak consumer and business demand. It does charge $50 for a third bag.

“We’ve got to be open minded to anything quite frankly,” Kelly said. Southwest is looking at bag charges, their revenue benefits and what impact it might have on airline’s discount image, he said.

Southwest advertisements have touted its free baggage policy. The airline recently started charging $25 for unaccompanied minors and $75 for pets.

Tempe-based US Airways Group Inc., Northwest Airlines, American Airlines and other carriers charge between $15 and $35 and between $15 and $20 for second bags checked in for flights.

Bob Mann, an airline industry expert and CEO of New York-based R.W. Mann & Co., said as long as the economy and travel demand remain weak Southwest will feel pressure to look at fees. Southwest could reap as much as $200 million annually depending on the cost and structure of the fees, he said.