Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air will begin charging passengers for carry-on bags that don't fit underneath the seat beginning Wednesday. One item is still allowed in the cabin free of charge, but if it's too big for the underseat area and requires overhead bin space, the new fee will apply.
First reported by David Parker Brown of AirlineReporter.com, company spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler confirmed, "Allegiant will begin charging for carry-ons for travelers booking new reservations beginning Wednesday."
In 2010, low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines was the first to levy a similar fee of between $20 and $45, and Allegiant has put a $35 price tag on any bag not small enough to fit underneath the seat. The carrier says a discounted rate will be available if purchased in advance online, but that rate won't be published until late tonight.
Presently, the price to check a bag with Allegiant is also $35 for the first bag if paid at the airport. Discounted advance purchase rates begin at $14.99 according to the airline's route-based fee table.
The unbundling trend of airline services that used to be free will undoubtedly continue as airlines seek these new streams of ancillary revenue to combat rising fuel prices, which airfare increases only partially cover. It is estimated worldwide airlines brought in $32.5 billion in ancillary revenue in 2011, up 43.8 percent from 2010.
Like Spirit, Allegiant is a low fare, leisure-oriented airline and heavily reliant on fees separate from the base airfare. But will carry-on bag fees spread to the major carriers such as American, Delta and United ? It remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this latest charge spread in the years to come.