Cover preview: The evil genius of airlines

Take a sneak peek at this week's cover story


It’s a good time to be an airline in Canada.

Falling oil prices have helped fuel record profits at WestJet and Air Canada, but so, it seems, has their new and frustrating approach to doing business: making passengers miserable and then charging them a fee to avoid the discomfort. Case in point: the decision to shrink economy class seats to make room for bigger (and more expensive) “premium” economy ones.

By far the biggest and most disruptive change has targeted luggage.

By charging passengers to check bags—even a single suitcase—on many domestic flights, airlines have raised tens of millions of dollars without lifting a finger. But it’s come at a potentially high cost—one that goes well beyond the $25 fee initially charged to passengers. That’s because it’s spawned a carry-on crisis that’s slowed down boarding, made more work for employees, created additional security headaches and even forced plane-makers to alter their designs to make room for more overhead bins. And guess who’ll pay for all that in the end?

In this week’s issue, Maclean’s examines the airline industry’s baggage about baggage. Watch for the story on Next Issue and digital newsstands on Wednesday.

UPDATE: This story is now online, and can be viewed here.