Tough new baggage allowances come into play today for Qantas, with most passengers on domestic flights limited to one checked bag – even if they're a member of the Qantas Club or hold Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver or Gold status.
Qantas is also introducing new baggage limits and excess fees for international flights: click here for all the details.
Passengers will be charged between $15 and $60 for extra bags, depending on how many bags you check and if you pay in advance online or at the airport. Qantas has also introduced an additional $20 ‘heavy charge’ for bags beyond the ticket allowance which weigh more than 23kg.
Qantas previously permitted passengers to check any number of bags on domestic flights provided their combined weight fell under a ceiling of 23kg to 45kg (depending on your class of travel and Qantas Frequent Flyer status level).
But as of today all travellers are limited by the number of bags they can check in, in addition to a per-bag weight limit.
Qantas' key competitor, Virgin Australia, is not imposing a limit to the number of bags passengers can travel with -- bad news for Qantas, which must have hoped Virgin would fall in line by the 1st June deadline.
Instead, Virgin is going out of its way to demonstrate that it can provide better service, with more generous baggage allowances than Qantas, yet with cheaper fares.
Qantas says the changes are due to the new do-it-yourself baggage drop system rolled out as part of its Next-Generation Check-in System, which launched in Sydney Airport late last year and will be in place in all capital city airports (barring Hobart and Darwin) by the middle of the year.
Australian Business Traveller has pored over the details and cut through the charts to break down how Qantas’ new domestic baggage allowances affect every traveller.
(If you're wondering about how the new checked baggage rules affect international flights, high-status frequent flyers will be pleasantly surprised – click here for the details.)
Domestic economy (non-Frequent Flyers, Bronze Frequent Flyer status)
The new limit is one piece of checked luggage weighing a maximum of 23kg (prior to June 1st, you were permitted any number of bags totalling the same 23kg).
Domestic economy (Qantas Club members, or Silver or Gold Frequent Flyer status)
You can check one piece of luggage weighing a maximum of 32kg (whereas until June 1st you could check any number of bags totalling 33kg).
Domestic economy (Platinum Frequent Flyer status)
Two pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 32kg each (until June 1st you were allowed any number of bags totalling 38kg). This is a win for top-tier travellers provided they check only two bags, as those can now total to 64kg if each is evenly packed to the brim; but if you check many additional yet relatively lightweight items such as individual boxes, get ready to pay extra for going over the two-bag limit.
Domestic business (including Qantas Club members)
One piece of checked luggage weighing a maximum of 32kg (until June 1st you were allowed any number of bags totalling 30kg, or 40kg if you belonged to The Qantas Club). Yeah, Qantas Club members get screwed on this one.
Domestic business (Silver, Gold or Platinum Frequent Flyer status)
Two pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 32kg each (until June 1st you could check any number of bags totalling 40kg if you were a Silver or Gold Frequent Flyer, or 45kg if you were a Platinum Frequent Flyer). The change is good for high-status flyers who can check just two heavy bags but it's a step backwards if you're already hitting the current 40-45kg ceiling, as can be the case with boxes of product samples.
Domestic excess luggage charges: by bag
You now have to pay to check extra bags above your one-bag or two-bag allowance listed above, and there’s a strict two-bag limit (on top of your standard ticket allowance). The cost is $15 for the first bag and $30 for the second if you pre-pay online (using the Manage My Booking page on Qantas.com.au), or $30 for the first bag and $60 for the second if you pay at the airport.
Domestic excess luggage charges: by weight
While your ticketed checked luggage allowance ranges from 23kg to 45kg per piece, the maximum of two additional checked bags (for an extra fee) are limited to 23kg each. What if you go over the limit?
Under the current system passengers pay a flat rate of $10/kg for each kilogram the baggage exceeds their ticketed weight
For example, someone travelling in economy with only Bronze frequent flyer status (or no frequent flyer membership at all) is entitled to 23kg under both the old and new schemes.
Should our infrequent flyer turn up to the airport with a 30kg bag there'd be a $70 surcharge (at $10/kg for the extra 7kg over the 23kg limit). From June 1st this bag will attract a new and significanctly smaller $20 'heavy charge' levied on all extra bags over 23kg (through to a maximum of 32kg).
This charge is waived if you’re travelling in business class, are a member of The Qantas Club or hold Silver, Gold or Platinum Frequent Flyer status.
How do you feel about these changes – will you be better off or worse off? Have your say in the comments box below.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.