Until now Europe’s traditional airlines such as Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa have prided themselves on not burdening passengers with ancillary charges as do the budget carriers.
But Dutch carrier KLM is the first to break ranks. Reports today in the Dutch media, now confirmed by KLM, state that starting in April KLM will charge short-haul passengers fees of either €15 (when paid in advance) or €30 (when paid at the airport) for pieces of checked baggage.
Hand luggage will remain free and the charges will not apply to passengers flying long-haul. All members of KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty scheme will also escape the new fees.
At the same time, it’s understood KLM will strictly enforce rules for hand baggage. According to the reports, any bag which doesn’t meet KLM’s 55x25x35 cm, 12 kilos allowance will be placed in the hold and the unlucky passenger will be charged €30 at the gate.
In its defence KLM says that 60 to 70 per cent of its short-haul passengers carry only hand luggage. The airline says that passengers would prefer to pay less for their flights and that is why it has decided to bring in the fee.
Most large airlines lose money flying within Europe yet cannot charge profitable prices because of fierce competition from budget carriers, surface transport and so on.
Ancillary fees (like the checked baggage charge) are one way of raising extra cash without hiking the headline price.
KLM says it is adapting its product to “behavioural changes” by passengers. It says that the new paid baggage option is part of its ‘Choice and Control’ service for passengers.
The fees take effect for bookings made on or after April 22. Passengers can avoid them by booking flights before that date.
For more information visit klm.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter