U.S. airlines collected $5.7 billion in fees for checked luggage and changed reservations last year, according to data released by the Department of Transportation on Monday. Here, a by-the-numbers guide to the airline industry's "staggering" haul:
Baggage fees collected by U.S. airlines last year. The practice of charging $25 for the first checked bag and more for a second "began as a revenue bridge when travel fell sharply during the 2008-09 recession and fare increases were hard to pull off," says John Crawley at Reuters. Those "ancillary fees" remain, "and are now an important part of the revenue stream for airlines."
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Percentage increase in revenue from baggage fees from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, the industry collected $2.7 billion.
More than $8
Average additional baggage charge "for each of the 416 million passengers who boarded an airplane last year," says Scott McCartney at The Wall Street Journal. Travelers "hate the nickel-and-diming they get at the airport these days," so maybe the industry would be better off if everyone just paid $8 more for their ticket, says McCartney. "You don't pay extra for a television in a hotel room — it's an expected part of the service."
Baggage fees collected by Delta last year, by far the most of any airline. "Delta has sent a very loud message to the rest of the industry: Y'all got a lot of catching up to do," says Chris Morgan at The Consumerist.
Baggage fees collected by Delta in 2009
Baggage fees collected last year by American Airlines, coming in a distant second to Delta
Reservation-change fees collected by all U.S. airlines last year
Reservation-change fees collected by Delta last year, again the most of any airline
Drop in industry-wide reservation-change fees from 2009. "One might suspect that travelers are getting more careful about reservations and are a bit better at avoiding nasty reservation change fees," says McCartney in The Wall Street Journal.
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