Swindlers, sharks and swine, #1. Qantas Airlines and The Great Australian Excess Baggage Con

Well, I did say that I was going to embrace my grumpiness much more in the future.  This week's Most Shocking Liberty Taken By A Retailer goes to the outrageous tricksters at Qantas Airlines.

We all know, of course, that the air travel business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where pimps and hustlers run free.  How we love those "cheap" city breaks on budget airlines only made possible by backroom deals and slippery handshakes (wherein airlines skip off scott-free of fuel tax and local governments make pay-offs to land planes full of monied tourists in their remote airports), and those endless laundry-lists of hidden charges that turn a 1p ticket to Rome into a £250, 12-hour survival adventure.

I've done a lot of flying in my time.  I've done a lot of flying in the last 12 months.  Most of it long-haul.  So imagine my surprise when I uncovered the great Australian Excess Baggage Con.  Having flown a band and all of their equipment pretty much everywhere in the world except Australia, I was not prepared for this.  Bear in mind, dear readers, that a flight from London to Australia lasts 24 hours (including the plane change in Hong Kong).  This is the sanity-challenging mother of all endurance travelling.  It's hardcore.  And it's not, therefore, something that one is going to entertain as a quick city break.  One is not going to pop over to Australia for the weekend.  If you're volunteering yourself for that kind of inhumane captivity, you're going to want to stay put at the destination for a while, and really give your mind a chance to forget the flight over before you go hopping on a plane back home.  And  you're going to need some luggage, are you not?

Well, the lovely folks at Qantas are quite happy for you to take your 23 kg checked bag for free.  And also a small 15kg carry on.  But should you go over that weight, do be aware that you need to pay $35 (approx £23) per kg for the privilege. That's correct. If you want to take a second piece of 23 kg luggage, that will be £529 please. If you're spending 24  hours flying half-way around the world to enjoy the spirit of Australia, you'd better be planning on wearing itsy bitsy bikinis when you get there.

Funny thing is, looking at Qantas' web site, I can see that were I flying from "the Americas" to Australia - say NYC to Brisbane, as opposed to London to Brisbane, the story is completely different.  That's a similar long-haul journey (22 hour flight stopping in LA for 90 minutes).  On that flight, one can take an extra 23 kg bag for just $103 (£68) in total.  Almost eight times less than the rates they charge from Europe.   When I asked my travel agent why this was, he replied "well the market in America is much more competitive".

So, the fact is that Qantas charge $35/£23 per kg excess baggage from Europe for no other reason than because they can.  Because we, us, the great European Unwashed, the Euromugs, we let them.

Let me just get this right.  If I fly with Quantas from London to Brisbane (24 hours) with 7 extra bags it's going to cost me the flights plus £3703 in baggage costs.

If I fly with Qantas from NYC to Brisbane (22 hours) with 7 extra bags it's going to cost me the flights (pretty much the same price as the seats from London, by the way) plus £476 in baggage costs.

How can they justify that?

So in my case, where I have 7 people flying, all requiring an extra bag, it would be cheaper for me to fly one person to NYC with 8 bags (flight + extra baggage cost of say, Virgin airlines, total less than £1000) and then stick them on a Qantas flight to Brisbane from there (flight cost about the same as from London, plus extra baggage at £476).  I would save around £2227 by doing this.

Does this make sense to anyone except Qantas?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Qantas Airlines. Swindlers, sharks and swine.


  1. Qantas qualify for the Most Shocking Liberty Taken By A Retailer this week as they sell a product direct to the public.
  2. To be fair to Qantas, I could not find any other airline flying to Australia which offered any better deal on extra baggage.  However this does not excuse their behaviour, in fact in only serves to potentially indict them in the much more heinous crime of price fixing.  They all do it because, if they stick together, they can.