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Avoiding baggage fees may cost travellers more in the long run: Maclean's

As GTA families get set to head to Pearson International Airport for March break getaways, many will try to avoid baggage fees to save some money.

Some travellers are over-stuffing their carry-on bags, but such efforts to not check luggage could actually be costing travellers more in the long run.

An exclusive story by Maclean’s magazine, says that this practice has created less room on planes and longer wait times to get through security, while creating more work for airport employees.

The magazine also found that with many people choosing to carry-on their baggage, “Pearson’s multi-million-dollar checked baggage facilities aren’t used nearly as much as they should be.”

Last year, WestJet Airlines announced it will start charging some economy fare customers a fee to check their first bag on flights within Canada and to the United States.

The new fee, ranging between $25 and $29.50 depending on provincial taxes, applies for travel on WestJet and its regional airline Encore.

Air Canada also followed WestJet’s lead and starting charging $25 for the first checked bag on domestic flights within Canada, and to and from the Caribbean and Mexico, for travellers booking the lowest economy class Tango fares.

Air Canada already charges a fee for first checked bag on U.S. transborder routes.

Porter Airlines also charges $25 for the first bag and $35 for a second bag checked on domestic travel as of May.

Maclean’s reports that by charging passengers to check bags, “airlines have raised tens of millions of dollars without lifting a finger.”

“It’s come at a potentially high cost –one that goes well beyond the $25 fee initially charged to passengers,” the magazine writes.

According to the magazine, the “carry-on crisis” has not only slowed down boarding and lead to more security headaches, but also “forced plane-makers to alter their designs to make room for more overhead bins.”

Maclean’s also reports low oil prices have helped to fuel record-high prices at WestJet and Air Canada.

The strategy has also helped their new approach in doing business, by “making passengers miserable and then charging them a fee to avoid the discomfort.”

The latest issue of Maclean’s hits newsstands this week, and is also available on Next Issue and digital newsstands.

With files from The Canadian Press