Airlines now charge for baggage: it’s a way of raising the actual price of flying without changing the sticker price that appears when the booking is made. And it also, presumably, reflects some real costs; when people avoid the bag fee by sending their luggage ahead by FedEx Ground, that saves the airline the cost of the extra fuel required by the extra weight plus the cost of handing the bag on the ground.
But fuller flights mean that on-board baggage space is scarce, so airlines also ask people if they’re willing to gate-check their carry-ons. Doing so is free.
As a result, if I’m flying with two bags (plus my laptop) I check the big one at the ticket counter, carry the smaller one (small enough to carry aboard) through security, and then hand it to the gate agent or one of the cabin crew to be tagged. That’s less convenient for me than checking two bags, and I can’t imagine it saves the airline any money. So what’s the point of doing it this way, rather than charging only for bags too big to be carry-ons?
Keith asked and answered the parallel question about why airlines now charge if you want to stand by for an earlier flight; people were buying cheap seats on the last flight out and then standing by for earlier, pricier flights, and the new rule prevents that. But I can’t figure out why the airlines encourage ramp-checking. Are there people who choose to pay an extra $35 to check a second bag at the counter rather than the gate? Any thoughts?