Dick Sebion packed his carry-on bag and his golf clubs Wednesday morning and headed to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, excited about his trip to the Washington, D.C. area combining business with a little pleasure.
His plane arrived a few minutes early at Reagan National Airport. But instead of rushing off the aircraft to retrieve his luggage at the carousel on the lower level, Sebion met his scheduled ride and headed to Alexandria for a meeting with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which hands out college scholarships to children of Marine and Navy Corpsmen killed in action. He left his golf clubs behind at the airport... on purpose.
Sebion, 62, is taking part in a new service for passengers who travel on American Airlines. Luggage that doesn't fit into an overhead compartment or beneath a seat can be picked up after passengers land and delivered wherever they want for a fee.
At a time when airlines are charging customers for seemingly everything from preferred seats to food, it was just a matter of time before the industry started a delivery service. Now luggage-checking passengers on American Airlines can do what the carry-on travelers do. They can get off a plane without stopping or trying to figure out which black suitcase is theirs in the baggage claim area.
"I thought I'd give it a try," said Sebion, who scheduled a noon tee time at the Army Navy Country Club in Virginia. "It's ideal for my scenario. I have to go to a meeting. I don't want to lug the clubs with me."
Two hours later, Sebion was reunited with his golf clubs at the country club located about 10 miles away.
The service, run by BAGS Inc., is offered at about 200 airports around the country. Other airlines are expected to follow.
In addition to the normal baggage fees, it will cost a passenger $29.95 to have one bag delivered, $39.95 for two bags and $49.95 for three to 10 bags.
Travelers have the option to purchase this service on AA.com up to two hours prior to the scheduled departure time. A special indicator will be printed on the bag tags to help the delivery representatives identify the luggage once it arrives at the destination airport.
American Airlines says it will deliver the luggage at a passenger's designated address within four hours and 40 miles of the airport. The airline will charge an extra $1 per mile for delivery locations between 41 to 100 miles away. Customers can waive a signature requirement so they don't have to be present when the bags are delivered.
If a flight is canceled or diverted, the order will be canceled at no cost.
Customers can cancel an order up to 24 hours in advance of arrival time but be subject to a $15 cancellation fee.
The baggage delivery service is available for flights originating from U.S. domestic airports with some international exceptions.
BAGS Inc. decided to start the new service after it noticed airlines were getting better at, well, not losing luggage. The company had already partnered with most of the major U.S. airlines to deliver luggage lost or sent to the wrong destination. BAGS Inc. developed the service as another source of revenue, according to Chief Operating Officer Scott Fasano.
In the United States, reports of lost luggage have dropped by one-third over the last 10 years, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.