Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Airlines Will Charge to Check Even the First Bag

Starting next month, American Airlines will charge $15 to check just one bag. I wrote in an earlier post that the writing was on the wall. Jet-fuel prices are now about 75% higher than three years ago and fuel costs represent about a third of the ticket price.

Reducing weight is critical. Newsweek recently had an article on airline seating, wherein it was claimed that reducing weight by one pound would save $200 in fuel per plane over the year. Suppose the average luggage weight per passenger decreased ten pounds, for about one ton total per flight on average. If my math and Newsweek are correct, that's $400,000 per year for just one plane. How many planes in the fleets of all U.S. airlines? Pretty soon, we're talking real money and real fuel savings.

Don’t despair. You can “lighten up” in ways that give you benefits instead of fits. Lightweight travel is safer and easier than carrying a heavy load of things you don’t need.

In four decades of advising people what to pack, the common thread is that they aren’t sure what to take, so they take too much. My husband and I have been traveling overseas on long trips since 1971. We take only carry-on bags that weigh 7 to 8 kilos full (about 15 to 17 pounds) and we dress well. People kept asking how we did it so I published two books that show you. You can learn about both “It’s In The Bag” books at

You *can* travel comfortably, and in style, while keeping ticket prices as low as possible.
Here’s a tip for security checks, where you must remove your shoes. I bring a pair of lightweight, nylon sox (old and valid plural of sock) to wear over my stockings and then remove them before replacing my shoes. This keeps my stockings and shoes clean. Please share one of your travel tips with us.