Airlines have collected $1.3 billion in baggage fees.
Airline baggage fees hit a record $1.3 billion in the first three months of the year, according to federal statistics.
A dozen years ago, airlines collected a modest $464,284 from passengers who wanted to check a bag, The Washington Post reports. Last year it was close to $4.8 billion, according to the federal government.
The airline industry argues that the fees allow it to keep ticket prices down and that travelers who don’t check any bags shouldn’t be charged an all-in-one ticket price that assumes bags will be checked.
“Even when ancillary fees are included, the price of air travel remains historically low, which is why we are seeing consumers take to the skies this summer in record numbers,” says Vaughn Jennings of Airlines for America, a group that represents several major carriers. “Airlines offer a variety of price combinations enabling customers to choose which optional services best meet their needs, including whether to check a bag.”
Critics contend, however, that even major airlines want to offer prices that appear to be bargains when they anticipate charging myriad additional fees. Some aviation experts suggest that airlines prey on the occasional traveler rather than the more experienced flier, and they predict it will get worse.