It used to be that only a few airlines were known for charging outrageous baggage fees — sometimes costing more than the price of an airline seat. But once the cost of fuel hit record prices in 2008, many airlines used the circumstance to introduce strict baggage allowance rules and new airline baggage fees. And it appears that these fees are here to stay because they serve as a significant source of revenue to the airlines and provide a high profit margin.

To minimize the shock on business travelers and others, not all airlines introduced fees at once; instead, some waited to observe leisure and corporate traveler reactions as major U.S. airlines implemented their programs: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $75 for a third bag, and $100 for excess wait baggage policies. Pretty soon, some airlines even identified revenue targets as much as $1 billion as part of their airline marketing strategies. And they are fast on track to getting there. To be sure, some European airlines already established high baggage fees because they offered low ticket prices for passengers.

The corporate travel market reaction to the increased fees has been interesting. Some corporate travel departments have negotiated baggage fee waivers on behalf of their business travelers while most others haven’t — instead, opting to focus on corporate passenger fees. This, perhaps based on the average number of travel days for their employee base (e.g., if the bulk of travel is same day or overnight).

This seems to have given airlines an opportunity to implement different airline baggage allowances that primarily impact small and medium sized business travel executives and leisure travelers: a very large airline constituency that does not have a strong advocacy group to counter on their behalf.

And an unforeseen consequence of this policy change has resulted in an increased number of carry-on baggage. Business travelers and others are maxing out the availability of overhead storage on planes. Not only does it take longer for passengers to get on board, this also causes longer lines and increased delays through security.

Nevertheless, many baggage allowance programs continue to change, usually just adding more strict guidelines and methods that ultimately just increase fees. BCD Travel, a leading provider of global corporate travel management with global headquarters in The Netherlands and Atlanta in the Americas, developed an at-a-glance guide to airline baggage fees, effective April 2009.

Generally speaking, it is important to check each airline baggage allowance program frequently — before purchasing tickets and before heading to the airport. In general terms, domestic flights typically offer less baggage flexibility than international flights; international flights tend to provide passengers with two bags at no charge (weight restrictions apply); all airlines are placing greater size restrictions on carry-on and checked luggage; and business class seats still offer plenty of flexibility for baggage allowance.

What does that mean for business travelers? Check the baggage allowance and baggage fee policies at airlines frequently: when you book your ticket and just prior to travel itself. We hope this comes in handy before you select an airline and pack for your trip.

Airline and Baggage Allowance Program

Air Canada Baggage Allowance
Air China Baggage Allowance
Air France Baggage Allowance
Air New Zealand Baggage Allowance

Alitalia Baggage Allowance
American Airlines Baggage Allowance
ANA Baggage Allowance

Austrian Baggage Allowance
bmi Baggage Allowance
British Airways Baggage Allowance
Brussels Airlines Baggage Allowance
Cathy Pacific Baggage Allowance
Continental Airlines Baggage Allowance

Delta Airlines Baggage Allowance
El Al Airlines Baggage Allowance
Emirates Baggage Allowance
Etihad Airways Baggage Allowance
Finnair Baggage Allowance
Iberia Baggage Allowance
Japan Airlines
KLM Baggage Allowance
Korean Air Baggage Allowance
Kuwait Airways Baggage Allowance
LOT Polish Airlines Baggage Allowance
Lufthansa Baggage Allowance
Malev Airlines Baggage Allowance

Northwest Airlines Baggage Allowance
Qantas Baggage Allowance
Qatar Airways Baggage Allowance
Royal Jordanian Baggage Allowance
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Baggage Allowance
Shanghai Airlines Baggage Allowance
Singapore Airlines Baggage Allowance
South African Airways Baggage Allowance
Southwest Airlines Baggage Allowance
Spaniar Baggage Allowance
Swiss Airlines Baggage Allowance

TAP Portugal Baggage Allowance
THAI Baggage Allowance
Turkish Airlines Baggage Allowance
United Airlines Baggage Allowance
US Airways Baggage Allowance