Yesterday, our Road Worrier column looked at the current state of checked baggage regulations and fees for Australia. There's a lot of information to absorb in the rules, so here's a simpler take on the same problem: how much would you pay to check a single bag onto each airline?
The table below shows what you would pay to check a single bag into the hold on each of the four domestic airlines, looking at weights of 15kg, 20kg, 25kg and 30kg and assuming you have booked the cheapest available fare. Qantas won't allow a single bag of more than 23kg, so in that case we've looked at multi-bag charges; for Jetstar, we've used the long-haul charge. These prices assume you don't have any frequent flyer status with either Qantas or Virgin and haven't booked a flexible or business-class fare; if you do, in many cases you'll pay nothing extra. They also don't include what you can take on the plane -- purely what goes in the hold on a domestic flight.
The big lesson here? As soon as you top the 23kg limit, things get pricey fast. If you need to take checked baggage on a cheap airline, book it in advance. The on-site fees will make your eyes water. And for Tiger ($370 for 30kg of luggage at the airport!), hand luggage seems the only way to go. And while Qantas' multi-bag approach has taken a pasting recently and its fares are often higher, it comes out tops on this kind of calculation.