Q I recently took a flight on JetBlue. When I checked in I was told my second bag would cost $40 each way! It used to cost $10 each way. On the return flight the nice lady at the counter said she would turn the two bags into one. And, with that, I started thinking. I asked her to weigh both at the same time. They came in at 50 pounds total, so no overweight charge. So why we can't strap two bags together and call them one? No fees!
A Sounds like a great idea, as long as you don't go over size limits, after which extra fees kick in anyway. If your combined bags measure more than 63 linear inches (width plus length plus height), you'll start racking up enormous fees. On Delta, for example, that fee will be $175 each way.
So as long as your bags aren't too big and you're carrying some duct tape, go for it.
Q Southwest and United these days have boarding groups. I also just recently flew Air Canada, and they still board their planes via an automated voice dictating what rows should go after they board the "priority" passengers. I am always shocked at how many people are "priority" passengers (and suspect many of them are not) and I have actually seen plenty of people who board before their group or rows are called. Why don't airlines enforce their boarding procedures?
A I have seen airline personnel enforce these rules, but they don't make passengers remain seated until their boarding group or row is called. So eager passengers crowd the boarding area, making it difficult for passengers who need to board.
I suspect that employees just don't want to make a scene and the airline doesn't have the personnel to enforce common courtesy at the boarding area.
And you're right, more and more people have priority boarding, now that you can buy your way to the front of the line with various credit card perks and extra fees.
Q How does "excess valuation" work when checking a bag on an airline and is it worthwhile to buy it?
A Excess valuation is basically extra insurance that you can buy when you check in your luggage. It's over and above any liability that the airline is required to pay if your bag and its contents are lost or damaged.
On domestic U.S. flights, the airline's standard liability is no more than $3,300. For most people, it's not worth buying on domestic flights.
But where it's very useful is for international flights, because airline liability is much less when traveling outside the United States. Delta, for example, charges $10 for each $1,000 of coverage up to $5,000.
Beware though: You're still not covered for cash, camera equipment, electronics, jewelry, works of art or other valuables, and the coverage only extends to your destination, your first stopover, or your point of transfer to another airline. You need to buy the coverage each time you check a bag.
Today's column comes from George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com.