June 23, 2008 — US Airways has joined American Airlines in exempting boxes of duty-free liquor purchased in the Virgin Islands from checked bag charges, but other airlines have not followed suit.
Except for the liquor boxes, American charges $15 for the first checked piece of luggage and $25 for the second. The charge is $100 per bag for the third, fourth and fifth checked bags.
Internet travel forums have reports of passengers returning to the mainland from the Virgin Islands aboard Delta and Spirit Airlines flights who paid the standard checked baggage charge for their liquor boxes.
"People are not going to buy alcohol if they have to pay $20 or $25 to bring it home. The savings just aren't there," said St. Thomas resident Anna Clarke, who noticed the issue coming up on an online forum.
American, the territory's major carrier, changed its mind about charging for the liquor boxes after Delegate Donna M. Christensen pointed out to the airline that duty-free liquor purchases contributed to the territory's economy.
Christensen spokesman Monique Clendinen Watson said Monday that the delegate's office is writing to other airlines to request that the checked baggage fee be waived for liquor boxes.
At the Tourism Department, spokesman Allegra Kean Moorehead said that Gov. John deJongh Jr. had written the airlines about the issue.
US Airways spokesman Valerie Wunder said the airline has waived the checked baggage fee for liquor boxes from the U.S. Virgin Islands. US Airways charges $15 for the first checked bag, $25 for the second and $100 for subsequent bags.
Delta Airlines spokesman Carlos Santos said that Delta has no plans to change its current baggage fee schedule. Delta allows one checked bag at no charge, but charges $25 for the second bag for travel within the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Santos said there is no charge for the second checked bag on international flights such as ones to Europe even if the passenger is connecting through a mainland airport. Delta also charges $80 a bag for the third, fourth and fifth bags.
Calls to several other airlines that fly to the Virgin Islands were not returned. While most checked baggage fees are already in place, some don't begin for several weeks or don't apply to tickets purchased months ago. Elite passengers in the airlines' frequent flyer programs also may be exempt from fees.
Spirit Airlines charges $25 each for the first and second checked bags if paid when checking in for a flight. The charge for the third, fourth and fifth bags run $100 each. For travelers booking space for bags online, the price runs $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second. There was no mention on the website of a charge for third, fourth and fifth bags when checking them in online.
Continental does not charge for the first bag, but charges $25 for the second bag and $100 a bag for the third, fourth and fifth bags.
United Airlines charges $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second and $125 per bag for the third through sixth bags.
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