airBaltic and Samsonite introduce innovative checked bag fee

Latvian-based hybrid low-cost carrier airBaltic has introduced an innovative ancillary product, called the airBalticBag. Regular flyers with the airline who purchase an airBaltic-branded Samsonite suitcase can carry it as free checked-in luggage on an unlimited number of airBaltic flights for twelve months from the day of purchase. AirBaltic normally charges passengers in Economy a fee of EUR20 per checked bag one way when pre-booked online and EUR30 when purchased at the airport.

How it works: Travellers can purchase the airBalticBag (which is the lightest Samsonite suitcase available) in two sizes: The smallest suitcase weighs 2.3 kg and can also be taken into the cabin, while the larger model weighs 3.2 kg and can be used as checked-in baggage only. Prices for the suitcases are EUR169 and EUR181 respectively, which is within range of Samsonite’s suggested retail prices.

Passengers then register for airBaltic’s BalticMiles frequent flyer program and receive a personalised ‘free baggage tag’ with their full name and BalticMiles number, which should be attached to the Samsonite suitcase and correspond with the name on the flight ticket when taking a flight. The airBalticBag can be purchased online or in airBaltic ticket offices in Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn.

Tangible product
The outcome of an internal brainstorm session at airBaltic, the airBalticBag is a smart way to sell a checked bag fee, which many passenger regard as just another way of making money by airlines. Besides the annual subscription, which should save regular travellers in Economy class money when they fly more than four times a year, the product gives passengers a tangible product instead of just another fee. For Samsonite, the airBalticBag is a new way to promote its lightest suitcase, the B-Lite. It is unclear however, what the annual fee of the annual subscription will be for the second year and airBaltic says it is currently evaluating various options. Passengers in airBaltic’s Business Class as well as Executive and VIP-level members of BalticMiles will continue to be able to can check in luggage for free.

Ryanair and Samsonite offer ‘guaranteed’ carry-on bag
Samsonite has also teamed up with Ryanair to offer a hard-shell carry-on bag which is guaranteed to meet the airline’s carry-on luggage weight and size restrictions. Each Ryanair passenger (excluding infants) is permitted to carry one piece of cabin baggage on board free of charge, which should weigh no more than 10kg and not exceed the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

Ryanair charges passengers with checked baggage a fee of EUR/GBP20 to 25 each way (which further increases with GBP/EUR5 during peak summer months), which has resulted that 75 percent of passengers do not check in a bag. However, due to the large increase in passengers abusing the cabin luggage allowance, Ryanair is enforcing its rules more stricter and charges passengers EUR/GBP30 for each additional piece of carry on luggage.

And, sensing a commercial opportunity because of passenger’s anxiety that they won’t be able to take their luggage onboard, Ryanair and Samsonite have come up with a lightweight carry-on bag which (when properly packed) complies with Ryanair’s approved carry-on bag dimensions. In the airline’s words, “To ensure all passengers can get the maximum benefit of our generous, free 10kg carry-on baggage allowance we asked Samsonite to develop a lightweight, durable, hard-shell carry-on bag which is guaranteed to match our advised hand luggage dimensions.”

The Samsonite F’Lite 55cm suitcase weighs 3.2kg and is from made of hard wearing polypropylene. It is available through for GBP89/EUR99, which according to Ryanair is a 33 percent discount on regular recommended retail price. Delivery is free of charge anywhere in Europe.

With 75 million passengers per year, Ryanair is an interesting distribution partner for Samsonite. The two companies in 2010 already launched a soft-shelled version of the guaranteed carry-on bag, accompagnied with the following disclaimer (which may be the reason behind this year’s hard-shell offer): “As this Samsonite bag is softsided, if over-packed it may not fit into Ryanair’s baggage sizers and in such cases Ryanair will require it to be carried as checked-in baggage.”


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