First bag charge initiated at Delta

Washington DC
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Delta Air Lines today unveiled several new policies to align operations with its merger designee Northwest Airlines including instituting a fee for the first checked bag on US domestic flights.

The two airlines were granted permission to merge on 31 October by the US Justice Department and plan to close the transaction by year-end. Combining their operations under a single operating certificate granted by FAA should take 15-18 months.

Among the alignments detailed by Delta include a $15 charge for the first checked bag effective 5 December. The charge for a second bag is $25. Northwest in July followed most of its network rivals in starting to charge $15 for the first bag.

Elite members of each carrier's loyalty programmes are allowed to check up to three checked bags free, as are first and business class customers. Loyalty programme participants traveling in coach also are allowed to check two bags with certain weight limits.

Accompanying the new baggage fees are reductions for ticket fuel surcharges for loyalty programme participants on travel originating in the US and Canada, and a cut in fees for tickets purchased by telephone. Another fee disappearing is the curbside check-in charge.

Delta also is adopting Northwest's practice of allowing coach cabin customers to pay for seat selection using self-service check-in 24 hours prior to departure. Charges range from $ to $25 based on distance traveled. The carrier is waiving the fee for frequent flyer participants.

"As we align customer policies and fees to simplify the travel experience for our customers throughout the merger, Delta is adopting proven practices from both Delta and Northwest that have been broadly accepted in the marketplace," says Delta executive vice president and chief operating officer Steve Gorman.