Any extra weight costs the airline in fuel. So, if none of the passengers carry any extra luggage (be it checked in or cabin luggage), will it lead to lesser fuel for the airline, thus lesser expenses, which would justify the lower “zero-bag fares”.

Or, do the airlines have to meet some minimum weight criteria anyway to make any feasible fuel savings.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In this answer I calculated the cost of taking a few extra kgs on a Airbus A380 physics.stackexchange.com/a/133893/52188 $\endgroup$
    – ROIMaison
    Nov 13, 2015 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ROIMaison : I also read a similar comparison of carrying an extra coke can on every flight. It would cost the airline in excess of $1000 each year $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Nov 13, 2015 at 11:29

3 Answers 3


That's mostly a marketing ploy; people that don't have any bags are more likely to go with a airline that has a no-bag fare.

However not having any checked-in luggage means less overhead in terms of baggage handling as it's a bag less to load and keep track of. It also means that if you got lost and didn't make it to the gate in time they don't have to offload any luggage but can simply pushback as soon as the gate closes.

The freed-up space is then available for non-passenger cargo transport like mail.

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    $\begingroup$ You might add that carry-on baggage is not checked-in at a counter, and every extra bag which needs to be checked is extra effort and expense for the airline. Without check-in baggage you do a self-service check-in in most cases today, so you do the work which otherwise would be done by ground staff. $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2015 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Also they get to advertise the zero-bag fare on the billboards and look cheaper even if its not true for most passengers who end up checking in something. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Nov 13, 2015 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Depending on the flight it sometimes IS true for most passengers, but the mention in this answer of bag handling costs is a big part of it too. Knock that cost off, plus the fuel, and that can add up a lot. Plus as mentioned, replacing it with other more profitable cargo can make the airline more money overall $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Nov 14, 2015 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ I have always thought that the price is mostly for luggage handling. But how can you then explain that two airlines share a flight, one allows 23kg luggage and one only 15kg. $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Nov 16, 2015 at 15:37

One thing this does allow the airline to do is sell the space as freight space. Since every plane out there has a maximum take off weight the airlines need to make sure they can fit People + Bags + Fuel on the plane before hand. If they allow each passenger to bring a 50Lb bag then they need to make sure that they can take off assuming everyone on board brought a bag even if no one brings a bag. If an airline can sell a no baggage ticket then they can turn around and guarantee that to freight hauling to make up the costs.

In some other cases it changes how people use the airline as a mode of transport. A lot of people fly for business and generally would stay the night in their intended destination for what may only be one day of meetings. If an airline offers cheap no bag fares an individual may chose to fly out in the morning and back home in the evening after their business is done in which case they may not need to bring a bag. This may help in having people fly both ways on the same airline (although most round trip tickets are booked on the same airline anyway). It also opens up idea of "daily commuting" on a plane.


This is nothing to do with weight or costs. Using a 'zero bag' price with a surcharge allows them to advertise a flight for less, and many people will take that flight over one for twenty dollars more, without checking or realizing that the 'more expensive' flight gives them a free bag and the 'cheap' one charges forty dollars for a bag. It maximizes the chances that your flight shows up at the top when your flight is ordered by prices on the booking website.

Also, not everybody who takes the zero bag fare takes zero bags. Some will pay $50 for a bag, resulting in more profit for the airline.

The other factor is that a zero bag fare captures the people for whom price is a limiting factor - who will only make the flight if it costs them less than \$100. This gets the airline \$100 for the zero bag fare, which would otherwise have been $0 for an empty seat.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a case to illustrate this claim? I'd like to see a list where the customer is clearly misguided using this trap. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 14, 2015 at 1:33

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