Air Canada's decision to increase baggage fees a few weeks ago is prompting a consumer backlash. Many travelers are now looking for ways around the new charges and say they feel like they're being held hostage by the national carrier.

Angela Chan and Doug Ferguson are getting married in Hawaii next February, so they were annoyed to learn that Air Canada has just imposed new baggage fees that will hit their whole wedding party in the pocketbook.

"It's not just for the two of us, we have 10 friends who are going with us and booked on the same flight. They're going to be impacted too," said Chan.

The new fees break down like this:

  • Passengers who fly between Canada and the U.S. will now pay $25 for their first bag each way and $35 each way for the second.

  • Fly international and the first bag is free, but the second is $100 each way.

Air Canada declined our interview request but emailed to say: "This change in baggage policy is to match our U.S. competitors. Air Canada is simply aligning its policy with those that already prevail in the market."

The Canadian Consumers' Association is not impressed, saying "it would be so nice to see Canada's major airline lead instead of follow."

"What's the matter with them, haven't they got a backbone of their own? Why do they have to follow everybody else?" said Bruce Cran of the Canadian Consumers' Association.

There are baggage companies south of the border that will ship your suitcases door-to-door, and they guarantee the bags will arrive before you do. Cran says he's been contacted about a baggage company that may be looking to set up shop in Canada.

"They said they were representing a large freight company that was looking at taking on this service into Canada and they're already associated in some fashion, with that sort of thing in the United States," said Cran.

But for now, Angela and Doug are trying to figure out how to pack for their wedding in a way that won't cost them a fortune.

'It goes without saying we'll be looking for airlines other than Air Canada to get us to where we need to go," said Doug.

Angela and Doug originally picked Air Canada over WestJet because the fare was cheaper, but after adding the new baggage fees, the fares are pretty much the same.

WestJet doesn't charge anything for the first bag on flights to the U.S. and only charges $20 to check a second bag.

The U.S.-based baggage companies base their prices on a few things like size, weight and the number of suitcases. One of the biggest companies is called Luggage Forward. It guarantees your bags will arrive safely and on time, but it's pricey and may only be cost effective if you're travelling overseas with a lot of luggage.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele