Domestic airlines are already charging fees of up to $130 round trip to check two bags, with a single pair of skis, boots, and poles counting as one bag. Here's how it plays out on United Airlines: they now charge $15 to check the first bag, in addition to charging $50 each way to check a second bag per traveler. Think about how that adds up for a family of four.
It's only a matter of time before the airlines charge "oversize baggage fees" for skis or snowboards. One bright spot is Southwest who has yet to implement any kind of extra baggage charge, and still allows up to two checked bags weighing up to 50 lbs. each without any additional fee. Southwest will even allow a third checked bag on its domestic flights for a $25 fee. (Southwest flies to such skier gateway cities as: Denver, Colo.; Salt Lake City, Utah.; Reno/Tahoe, Nev.; Albuquerque, N.M; Spokane, Wash.; Boise, Idaho; Albany, N.Y.; and Manchester, N.H.).
Vail Resorts, facing potential traveler sticker shock, recently announced its "Baggage Bailout" program. Participants will receive a $50 credit when they book at least a four-day, four-night ski or snowboard vacation including lodging and lift tickets by Dec. 1 through Vail Resorts' central reservations. Children also may receive a $25 baggage credit, if at least four days of children's lift tickets are purchased.
"At Vail Resorts, we have decided to help carry the load for our guests by addressing airline baggage fees," said Rob Katz, chief executive officer for Vail Resorts.
Ironically, the biggest airline baggage fee offender is also taking steps to reduce the impact of their own fees. United Vacations, operated by United Airlines, has announced that customers booking a flight and hotel package with a minimum two-day ski rental to most of their ski vacation destinations by Nov. 15 will receive the equivalent of the two full days of adult ski rental -- up to $100 -- deducted from their vacation price at checkout.