Alaska Airlines offers discount to simplify charges and to entice outdoor enthusiasts.
In the last year alone, the nation’s biggest airlines have collected more than $4 billion in fees to check bags and other personal items.
So, it may come as a surprise that one airline is giving up at least some of that revenue.
Alaska Airlines has cut its fees for checking most sports equipment, such as bicycles and golf clubs, to $25 from $75. To qualify for the discount, the equipment has to count toward the first two checked bags for each passenger. The lower fee applies on the Seattle-based carrier, its subsidiary, Horizon Air, and flights operated by its partner regional carrier SkyWest Airlines.
The lower price eventually will apply at Virgin America, the carrier Alaska Airlines acquired last year.
The airline said the reason for the price cut was to eliminate the complication of having different fees for bags and sports equipment, thus cutting down on hassles for passengers.
Plus, Alaska Airlines serves destinations known for outdoor adventuring — Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico — and is hoping to become the favorite airline of sports aficionados, Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey said.
Alaska Airlines defines sporting equipment that will qualify for the $25 fee as gear to participate in archery, bicycling, fishing, hockey, lacrosse, scuba, skateboarding, surfing, paddle boarding, windsurfing and pole vaulting.
Most other major carriers still charge $75 to check such equipment.
On American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines the fee for sporting equipment can range from $25 to $150, depending on the size and weight of the sports equipment.
Southwest Airlines will count some equipment, including bicycles, toward the two free bags that are allowed each passenger, but larger gear such as vaulting poles and kayaks will incur a $75 charge each way.
Would you f ly in a pilotless plane?
The world’s aviation industry will need to train and deploy more than 600,000 new pilots over the next 20 years. But, then again, the industry might be operating fleets of commercial jets f lown by remote control.
Those are the seemingly contradictory outlooks described in separate reports by aerospace giant Boeing and Swiss banking powerhouse UBS.
Boeing’s report says global expansion and increased demand for air travel will require 637,000 new pilots over the next 20 years, with 40% of those needed in the Asia-Pacific region and 18% in North America.
A Boeing representative said the aviation company is not predicting a pilot shortage.
But airlines and other aviation groups have said it will be difficult to train and hire all the pilots, crew members and technicians required to meet future demands. “New market opportunities are creating an increased demand for qualified, skilled, and experienced pilots,” the Boeing report said.
But that many pilots may not be needed after all, according to a report by UBS aviation analysts, who predict that remote-control planes could be carrying cargo and passengers by 2025 and could save the industry up to $35 billion a year.
“In the not-too-distant future, we would expect to see a situation where flights are pilotless or the number of pilots shrinks to one, with a remote pilot based on the ground and highly secure ground-to-air communications,” the UBS study said.
Boeing has studied the possibility of developing pilotless planes, but the aviation company said in a statement “there are many steps to be taken before Boeing can fly an autonomous plane.”
There is another major barrier to pilotless planes: A UBS survey of 8,000 people found that 54% said they were unlikely to take a pilotless flight.
The outcome of the survey did not change much when the people were told that a pilotless flight would be much cheaper than a flight with pilots.
“Perhaps surprisingly, half of the respondents said that they would not buy the pilotless flight ticket even if it was cheaper,” the UBS report said.
ALASKA AIRLINES has cut $50 from its check-in fees — now $25 — for bikes and other sports gear.