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Delta Is Allowing Free Checked Bags to Help Speed Up the Boarding Process

News Airports + Flying
by Morgane Croissant Feb 7, 2022

Usually, checking a piece of luggage with Delta Air Lines costs $30 (or more, if you have several bags). But the airline is now allowing free checked bags for some passengers leaving from Boston Logan International Airport.

Far from being an act of generosity towards travelers, Delta is testing giving free checked bags in the hopes that it will help speed up the boarding process.

It’s currently free to bring one carry-on luggage and one personal items with you in the cabin, and because everyone wants to save $30, we’ve all been cramming our stuff into a 22 x 14 x 9-inch carry-ons. But fitting all those roller bags into overhead bins is a time suck for the airline as it slows down the boarding process. Rather than moving quickly to their seats, passengers clog the aisles trying to find a spot for their belongings, leading to departure delays.

To see if fewer carry-ons in the cabin really is the miracle remedy to boarding sluggishness, Delta will be texting certain passengers flying out of Boston before their arrival at the airport, offering them to check their carry-on for free. The test will run for a few weeks starting this month.

“Just as we’ve tested other airport experience modifications over the years, we are conducting a month-long test on select flights from Boston starting the week of Jan. 31, 2022,” a Delta spokesman said. “Select customers who have shared contact information with Delta will receive a text message before arriving at the airport with a proactive offer to check their carry-on bags. Customers will not be required to pay any additional bag fees associated with checking the carry-on bag.”

It’s currently unclear who will be receiving Delta’s offer for free checked bags and what the procedure will be exactly. How long before the flight will passengers be given this offer? If it’s the day before, they may be able to plan ahead and remove any fragile or valuable items from their bags; if it’s a last-minute message, however, passengers may not want to get their carry-on chucked in the cargo hold.

If reducing the number of carry-ons in the cabin is the heart of the issue, not charging for checked luggage may clinch it. But Delta’s not about to do that. In 2019, the airline made over 1 million dollars in baggage fees. More likely, they’ll start to charge for carry-ons.

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