Airlines rake in billions in baggage fees

September 15, 2011 1:42:21 PM PDT
U.S. airlines collected $15 million more in baggage fees in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the first quarter of last year, according to airline financial information released yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Baggage fees have gone from adding $119 million to the bottom line of U.S. airlines in 1990 to $3.4 billion in 2010, according to the bureau's data.

Click here to see a chart of increasing baggage fees

As fees make up more of the total cost of flying, the Department of Transportation has proposed collecting more data on the various fees. Right now, only baggage and reservation change fees can be tracked independently. If approved, the data would track "16 additional categories of fee revenue in addition to the baggage and reservation change fees to provide additional airline pricing information to consumers and airline analysts," according to the bureau.

A notice of the proposed rulemaking posted in the Federal Register stated: "Many air carriers have adopted a la carte pricing with separate fees for such things as checked baggage, carry-on baggage, meals, on-board entertainment, internet connections, pillows, blankets, advance or upgraded seating, telephone reservations, early boarding, canceled or changed reservations, transportation of unaccompanied minors, pet transportation, third-party services such as hotel rooms, car rentals, and pick-up and delivery services, et cetera."

Story courtesy of our media partners at California Watch (A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting)

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