Tigerair Australia will be the first airline in this country to offer a carryon baggage fee for passengers wanting to take on board more than the permitted 7kg.
The airline is introducing a new cabin+ option that increases the carryon allowance to 12kg spread over two bags “subject to available space and passenger comfort and safety on board”.
The changes apply for bookings made from March 17 for travel on or after April 17, Tigerair said in a statement on Tuesday.
The move towards a carryon bag fee brings Tigerair in line with the practice of so-called ultra low-cost carriers in the US such as Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier, who also have carryon fees.
In the case of those three US airlines, passengers are allowed to take one carryon bag at no charge provided it fits under the seat in front, while travellers who want to use the overhead locker or bring on a second bag have to pay a fee.
Tigerair is currently second only to Qantas in terms of the generosity of its carryon allowance, with passengers able to take 10kg spread over two bags on board.
However, the change brings Tigerair in line with its owner Virgin Australia and Jetstar, who both have a 7kg limit on carryon luggage. Qantas allows passengers to take up to two bags each weighing up 7kg on board most flights, with the exception of Dash8 and Olympic Dam services.
Tigerair says the 7kg limit has been introduced to manage overcrowding in the overhead lockers, assist with passenger safety and improve on-time performance.
The cabin+ fee starts at $18 for shorter flights and $23 for longer flights if purchased online prior to travel, or $36/$46 at the airport.
If the bag needs to be checked in, Tigerair charges passengers who have not pre-booked online $70 for flights up to 105 minutes long or $85 for longer flights.
Tigerair commercial director Adam Rowe said the new guidelines have been introduced in response to customer feedback.
“People generally understand and support these requirements as there is only a finite amount of available overhead locker space,” Rowe said.
“Passenger safety and comfort are key considerations, as is the considerable impact on the airline’s on-time performance when bags need to be transferred to the hold if they are oversized.
“Tigerair continues to be as clear and transparent as possible on the matter of baggage selection and excess baggage and provided that our passengers book the right amount of ￼baggage in advance, they will avoid any extra fees at check-in.”
Meanwhile, Tigerair owners Virgin Australia has also made changes to its baggage policies.
The airline removed its no checked bag Saver Lite fares across its domestic and short-haul international network on Tuesday. Long-haul flights to Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles already included a checked bag with every ticket.
The only routes where a bag-free fare can be purchased is for flights between Australia and New Zealand, which keeps Virgin in line with its alliance partner Air NZ’s fare structure for trans-Tasman travel.
The end of the Saver Lite fare has change has also coincided with increased prices for Saver, Flexi and Business Class tickets on certain routes.
For example, a Saver fare for travel from Sydney to Melbourne on June 2 was $95 on the Virgin website on Monday, when Saver Lite was still available.
On Tuesday morning, once Saver Lite option was removed, Saver fares had increased to $109, while flexi ($355 vs $339 before the change) and business ($699 v $675) had also gone up.
Virgin’s rival Qantas includes a checked bag with every ticket.