Jetstar charges higher baggage fees for shorter flights. Picture: Jetstar
Jetstar charges higher baggage fees for shorter flights. Picture: Jetstar

Airline baggage rort exposed

Jetstar is ripping off customers by charging more for baggage on shorter flights than longer ones.

In confessing to the rort, the airline admitted its luggage fees were based as much on the level of competition and route popularity as genuine costs such as fuel bills.

Proving why it and parent Qantas have been described as the world champions of raising "ancillary revenue", Jetstar has also revealed that in the past six months it had convinced 300,000 passengers to increase their spend by as much as 90 per cent through a new "Plus 3kg" bundle, which permits 10kg of carry-on baggage instead of 7kg.

This success comes amid a crackdown by all airlines on baggage limits and follows official moves to severely curtail the local industry's ability to bleed customers through card surcharges.

Scott and Annie Harris of Jamberoo with their son Edward, 9 months at Sydney Domestic Airport after a Jetstar flight from Cairns. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Scott and Annie Harris of Jamberoo with their son Edward, 9 months at Sydney Domestic Airport after a Jetstar flight from Cairns. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

 

An ongoing investigation by News Corp Australia into outrageous fees and charges reveals the cost of adding 20kg of baggage to a Jetstar flight from Brisbane to Cairns is 40 per cent higher than it is from Sydney to Cairns.

It is also more expensive than carrying 20kg from Melbourne, despite that journey being nearly 1000km longer than the Brisbane-Cairns journey.

Jetstar charges higher baggage fees on shorter flights. Picture: Jetstar
Jetstar charges higher baggage fees on shorter flights. Picture: Jetstar

 

In other examples:

* Taking 20kg from Sydney to the Gold Coast costs more than doing so from Melbourne; while

* Melburnians have to pay more than Sydneysiders and Brisbanites to take luggage to Adelaide, even though the flight is substantially shorter; and

* Travelling from Adelaide, it costs more to take 20kg to Melbourne than Sydney or Brisbane.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said factors it took into consideration when pricing "our products such as bags" included "the length of the route, destination, demand for that product on the route, as well as the competitive environment".

Jetstar's most recent financial results, released by Qantas in February, showed an 11 per cent lift in "ancillary revenue" driven by the launch of a "Plus 3kg" bundle which offers 10kg of carry-on not 7kg along with seat selection and better cancellation options.

For a flight between Sydney and Avalon in Victoria, this bundle costs $40 - nearly as much as some seats on that route.

 

News Corp Australia Fee Fighters series exposes how customers are being ripped off, read more stories from this series above. Picture: News Corp
News Corp Australia Fee Fighters series exposes how customers are being ripped off, read more stories from this series above. Picture: News Corp

 

Jetstar was recently labelled an "ancillary revenue champ" in a global comparison by IdeaWorksCompany, the research leader in the area.

And Australian-based Strategic Aviation Solutions has described Qantas/Jetstar as the most effective generator of ancillary revenue in the world.

There is some good news for travellers - the booking fee on a $100 Jetstar fare has fallen from $8.50 to as little as 22c after the introduction of laws prohibiting excessive card surcharging.

Rival Tiger's fee is up to four times as much. However it does not appear to charge more for baggage on shorter journeys.

NAPPY BAG STING

Airlines' insatiable appetite for stinging customers is summed up by the experience of Scott and Annie Harris, who were made to pay extra for their nappy bag on a recent flight.

The couple were taking son Edward, nine months, on his first flight - to Cairns for a week's respite. But they failed to comply with Jetstar's tough baggage rules.

"We had to pay extra for the nappy bag," Mrs Harris said.

"You need a nappy bag on a flight."

 

Scott and Annie Harris of Jamberoo said they were told they’d need to pay extra to take a nappy bag on a recent Jetstar flight. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Scott and Annie Harris of Jamberoo said they were told they’d need to pay extra to take a nappy bag on a recent Jetstar flight. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts


A fees survey by News Corp Australia of 2000 consumers reveals 10 per cent consider excess baggage charges to be the most outrageous of all add-ons.

Some respondents were moved to write about their experiences.

One reported being slugged for being just 0.1kg over the limit.

Another said they were charged $50 for being 1kg beyond the allowance.

A third said that when travelling home for Christmas with presents the excess baggage bill was more than the cost of the ticket.

The founder of cheap flight site iknowthepilot.com.au Garth Adams said he had personally noticed airlines getting stricter about weight and size of carry-on luggage.

"I have seen TigerAir, Jetstar and Qantas going through each person in the line at the departure gate asking to weigh and measure any bags that look over the limits," Mr Adams said.

"This definitely pushes people toward the bundles which, in Jetstar's case, is a fair bit more than the price of just adding a 20kg bag," he said.

HOW TO SAVE ON AIRFARES

* Weigh bags at home at home. Stand on scales without your bag, get off, then get back on holding it

* Be wary of bundles: 20kg of baggage to Phuket is $90 in Jetstar's "Plus" bundle but only $39 unbundled

* Jetstar hides a good-value option: 25kg, which is only $42 to Phuket. See it by clicking "More baggage options"

* Two 25kg bags should do a family, so choose individually

* Use everyone's carry-on limit. For a family of four that's 28kg

* On Scoot it is cheaper to buy a 20kg and meal than to purchase the bundle combining them

* If you're flying outbound with Virgin Australia and returning with Qantas, be careful: they have the weight limit of 23kg but Qantas only allows one checked bag

* Travelling with a pram? Buy a carry case. It protects your pricey pusher and you can stash extra luggage inside

* Always reject a foreign airline's offer to convert a payment to $A. Let your card do it. You will save a fortune