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Bag fees bring some advantages

JetBlue Airways began charging baggage fees to its lowest-fare passengers this month, leaving South- west Airlines as the only major carrier offering free checked luggage.

The response from JetBlue loyalists has been mostly negative.

“Sigh. JetBlue joining the ranks of crappy, nickel and dime airlines,” a JetBlue passenger posted on Twitter after the change was announced.

But academic studies say the addition of bag fees, starting for most carriers in 2008, has actually led to fewer lost-bag reports, fewer delayed flights and a drop in bag-related passenger complaints.

The studies in 2013 and 2015 by business and engineering professors from the University of Maryland and the University of Bergamo, Italy, said the bag fees cause passengers to check fewer bags, thus reducing lost-bag rates and cutting flight delays by reducing the time it takes to load bags onto planes.

One disadvantage, the studies say, is that passengers overstuff their carry-on bags to avoid bag charges and take longer to squeeze those bags into the overhead bins.

For their part, Southwest Airlines officials say they have no plans to end their “bags fly free” policy.

Hexagon seats squeeze in more fliers

One of the world’s largest airline seat makers, Zodiac Seats France, has applied for a patent to recon figure seats on airplanes so that every other passenger in a row is facing the back of the plane. That means that in a row of three fliers, the seat by the window and the seat by the aisle face the front of the plane while the middle seat faces the back.

To make it easier to exit, the seats flip up when a passenger stands, like the seats in movie theaters.

These Economy Class Cabin Hexagon seats can in- crease the number of passengers in a typical Boeing 767 by up to 80.

The nation’s airlines may be running out of ways to configure seats, said Jason Rabinowitz, data research manager at Routehappy.com, a website that compares airline seats and amenities. Instead, he predicts that the industry will now focus on shrinking on-board bathrooms and galleys to fit more passengers.

Los Angeles Times

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