Piece baggage fee drives revenue?

2012-05-02 07:57
Tough times are ahead in the airline industry. Fuel costs are going up, people have less money to travel, which means it's getting harder to fill flights.
So, what are they to do?

Over the past year we've seen a few innovative ideas popping up all over the place, like BA's massive drive to reduce use of auxiliary power units and descaling toilet pipes on their Boeing 747 and 777s, among other things. Of course there have also been the more odd and extreme methods, like removing toilets from aircrafts altogether and asking flight attendants to lose weight. Both implemented by Ryanair.

While we haven't seen anything quite so extreme here on home turf, fans of budget airline Kulula were quite shocked and somewhat disappointed to find them applying the dreaded "piece concept" as opposed to the usual "weight concept" at the end of last year, something many have labeled as being a clear revenue drive aimed at reducing fuel consumption and costs.

Basically what this means: customers get to check one bag in that weighs less than 20 kg. Any bag weighing more than this will be charged a once off fee of R250.

Furthermore, if customers want to check-in an extra bag they will have to dock up a fee of R300, regardless of the total weight of their luggage.

Compared to the between R25 and R30 per kilogram charged by other low-cost airlines for extra luggage, it really is no wonder loyal customers have been in a bit of a huff, not to mention sportsmen and musicians.

These are a few of the comments we received on the article we ran late last year:

  • "do travel a fair bit with Kulula & only sometimes I might be 1 or 2kg's over weight, I also take my Camera bag along, although not that big, it is a hobby of mine. I do not see me paying these costs & will use someone else. It will only be in a real emergancey I fly with them now" - Desmond
  • "Bye Kulula - Thank goodness it's not the only airline flying the popular routes. I'll fly with someone else in future, thanks," said Charles.
  • And from an anonymous reader: "It's an easy way to make extra bucks from unsuspecting customers over the holiday season. Air France have a similar system. You are each allowed 1 bag at 23 kg each. If you share a bag with your wife and are 1kg over the 23, they merrily charge you 100 euro as they don't permit you to pool the weight as is the norm on most airlines."

As the last one points out, this is not altogether a foreign concept in the airline world. In fact it is implemented by all international airlines on routes across the Atlantic Ocean, mostly to/from North America.

For instance, SAA implements the so-called "piece concept" on their flights to, from and between the USA, Brazil and Canada. Their allowance is 2 pieces with 23 kg (50lb) each and maximum dimensions of 158 cm (62 inches) each for economy class and 2 pieces with 32 kg (70lb) each and maximum dimensions of 158 cm (62 inches) for business and first class, with exceptions here and there.

Lufthansa, on the other hand, made waves last year when they announced that they would be doing away with the weight concept altogether on all their global flights, replacing it with a more convenient piece concept. While they do have exceptions for sporting equipment, their excess baggage charges of 50 Euros for each flight leg and 150 Euros for long-haul flights, have had many passengers up in arms.

Shortly after this, Swiss Airlines also announced that they were standardizing and simplifying their baggage policy, implementing the piece concept on all their flights worldwide.

So, while Kulula got quite a tongue lashing from many South Africans, could it be that they were just keeping up with international trends? Why not post a comment below

We take a look at the controversial implementation of the piece baggage concept on flights worldwide.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.