It’s easy to get ripped off while flying with your golf clubs. As it turns out, a little too easy.
On Wednesday, the Biden Administration released new guidance about airline fees at improving cost transparency for customers as it relates to checked baggage, child seating, flight changes and cancellations. The proposed rulewhich was written by the Department of Transportation, would compel airlines to show complete cost information at the time of purchase, allowing consumers to understand the full, built-in cost of their flight before booking.
Under the Biden Administration’s proposed rule, airlines and third-party booking websites would be “required to clearly disclose” fee information about bags, changes, or companion seats when displaying information about flights traveling to or from the United States. These changes, the Administration said, would help to promote healthy competition between traditional airlines and low-cost alternatives that make a chunk of their profits on the back of last-second fees and charges.
While most airlines charge checked baggage fees for golf bags, to date, there’s little consistency across the industry as to cost. Delta, United and American Airlines — three of the US’s biggest carriers — each charge between $30-45 per bag, while budget carriers like Spirit, JetBlue and Frontier charge variable rates depending upon the time of purchase.
For golfers, this problem manifests itself in two ways. Many players (this author included) are willing to trade cost for consistency, flying only one airline in the hopes of earning frequent flyer perks like free checked bags, even when that effort comes at the expense of the most direct (or cost-effective) routes. Others who fly their clubs on a variety of airlines find a cost hike in surprise fees at the time of booking or at the airport.
For those who frequently travel with their golf clubs, the guidance likely comes as good news. In theory, the new rules will help consumers find the cheapest routes with more consistency, improving the overall purchasing experience while minimizing the role of surprise fees. In his press conference announcing the guidance, Biden put it even more succinctly:
“You can pick that ticket that’s actually the best deal for you.”
Suddenly, that airport Fiji water doesn’t seem so expensive.