British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has said he will not back down over plans to bring in charges for people wanting to check in extra bags.
Willie Walsh said a small number of passengers would pay the fees
The airline has caused controversy by deciding to introduce charges of up to £240 for a second piece of luggage on a long-haul return flight.
Mr Walsh said the move would affect 2% of British Airways (BA) passengers.
Help the Aged has said the charges would hit elderly passengers who are unable to carry one large bag.
Customers have previously been allowed to check in more than one bag as long as they did not exceed weight restrictions.
'Not a big issue'
In an interview for BBC Radio 4's The Bottom Line, to be broadcast at 1730 GMT on Saturday, Mr Walsh said: "A policy of charging for excess baggage has existed in the airline industry since the Wright brothers, and we're not changing that.
"All we're changing is the approach. We reckon this will apply to less than 2% of the people flying with us. So it's not as big an issue as people are making it out to be."
From Tuesday, 13 February, fees will be imposed even if the combined weight of a passenger's bags is below the allowance.
Those wanting to check-in an extra bag for a short return international flight face a charge of £120 and those on domestic journeys, £30.
Passengers will be able to carry one piece of sporting equipment free of charge in addition to their baggage allowance.
From 30 September, the maximum weight of a bag that can be checked-in free of charge will be 23kg.
First and Club World class passengers will be allowed to check-in three bags up to 23kg each for free. Club Europe and World Traveller Plus passengers will be allowed two.
The new charges have provoked outrage at Help the Aged which said the fees raised "serious issues" for older travellers.
A spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: "For many older people, it is important that they can travel independently. But many will not be able to manage one bag."
BA has said passengers unable to carry one bag would be exempt from the fees but it did not say how people would be assessed.
"Where it is clear that a passenger cannot manage one bag, we will let them check in an additional bag, or more, provided the total weight is within the 23kg limit," a spokesman said.