'It affects us greatly': New baggage policy upsets some Canadian North passengers

Some Canadian North passengers aren’t happy about the northern airline’s new baggage policy, saying it will affect how they travel with their families and for their jobs.

Airline scaling back number of free checked bags, reducing baggage weight allowance by 20 lbs

Terry LeBlanc works with Qulliq Energy and often travels for his job. He says the changes to Canadian North's baggage policy will have a big effect on how they get equipment to the communities. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

Some Canadian North passengers aren't happy about the northern airline's new baggage policy.

Earlier this week the airline announced it was scaling back on the number of bags passengers can check for free, and lowering its weight allowance from 70 pounds per bag to 50 pounds.

Angel Kaput, who lives in Iqaluit, says families in the North travel with a lot of bags.

"It's crazy, they shouldn't change it," she said.

"People love to shop and families love to travel, especially with kids."

Terry LeBlanc works with the Qulliq Energy Corporation and often travels for his job — having just returned from Clyde River where he was doing maintenance on the power station.

"We take a lot of instruments and equipment into the communities to supply power, and the 50 to 70 pounds — the difference, it affects us greatly."

Canadian North is hoping the new policy will lead passengers to check fewer bags. Air Canada and WestJet implemented similar policies for checked bags in 2014.

Kelly Lewis, communications manager for Canadian North, says they've modelled their new policy on southern airlines.

"The main reason is that we're looking to make some changes that'll help improve our efficiency in handling baggage," Lewis said.

"Other airlines... what they've noticed is that it changed behaviours of people and that they tend to carry less luggage."

Codeshare partners weigh-in

One of Canadian North's codeshare partners, Calm Air, says it won't be adopting a similar policy.

"We see the trend that passengers are trying to max out the amount of freight, or luggage or baggage that they take north with them," said Gary Bell, the airline's president.

"That's a really tough trend to reverse or undo because it's become part of the norm."

Bell said, on average, travellers to Nunavut are bringing three times the number of bags that passengers in the South carry. 

Canadian North's other codeshare partner, First Air says it hasn't decided if it will also change its baggage policy.

The changes won't affect medical travel passengers, according to a spokesperson with Nunavut's Health department. 

People travelling for medical reasons will still be allowed two bags at 70 pounds each.


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