Another exemption: when the airlines starting imposing extra fees to check a bag, the screamers were loud and clear. But the exemptions weren’t. And this ancillary pricing had a number of exceptions, exemptions and specifications. If you were flying on a full fare, if you were a member of the elite level of an airline’s frequent flyer plan, if you in uniform, you were exempt.
Now comes word from Continental that you can be exempt from the bag fee depending on how you pay. The carrier, based at the Houston Intercontinental airport and the major carrier at Newark, NJ’s Liberty airport, said that you don’t have to pay the first bag fee – $15 – if you own or hold a Chase Bank card (or debit card) that is a co-branded Continental card. If you have the card and are a member of its Presidential Plus level, you can check up to two bags without charge
This exception holds even if you bought an el cheepissimo ticket with the card, although people who pay $375 a year for a credit card probably don’t. You have to ask if American, which has a co-branded Citibank card, will react. Now more than 20 years old, the AMR/Citi relationship was one of the very first if not the first co-branded credit cards for airlines.
Which speaks to a point we tried to make last summer: the fees aren’t just a way to raise revenues but are a way to separate your most valuable customers from everyone else. After all, no one said it was supposed to be an airborne democracy.