Bag fees and bloated profits – those hidden charges that were designed to offset airline bottom-line losses are working. In fact, those tacked-on fees are yielding big time profits. Airlines have quietly racked up nearly $900 million in the black.
Writes Yahoo Finance: “Airline passengers who say they are increasingly feeling the squeeze now have a new number to quantify their pain: $899.5 million. That’s how much the major U.S. airlines collected in checked-bag fees in the second quarter this year, a 3 percent increase from a year earlier, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics said Monday.”
Most airlines start at $25 per first checked bag, and almost all major carriers offer a free carry-on bag, subject to weight and size restrictions. According to AirFareWatchdog.com, baggage fees on major airlines break down as follows:
AirTran: First checked bag: $25; second checked bag: $35; additional bags fee: $75 each
American: First checked bag: $25 (free to most international destinations); second checked bag: $35; additional bags fee: $150 each
Delta: First checked bag : $25 ($0 to international destinations except Canada and Caribbean);second checked bag: $35 ($40-$100 for some international destinations); additional bags fee: $125 for third bag; $200 each for bags 4-10
JetBlue: First checked bag: Free; second checked bag: $40; additional bags fee: $75 each
Southwest: First checked bag: Free; second checked bag: Free; additional bags fee: $50 each for 3-9 bags; $110 each for more
United: First checked bag: $25; second checked bag: $35; additional bags fee: $100 each (up to $200 on some international routes)
US Airways: First checked bag: $25 (free for some international flights); second checked bag: $35 ($100 for trans-Atlantic); additional bags fee: $150 for the third; $200 thereafter
“Bag fees seem to be the biggest headache,” said George Hobica, the president and founder of Airfarewatchdog. Hobica said passengers don’t realize it may be cheaper to have their bags shipped ahead of time, “especially on shorter routes since charges are by the mile whereas airlines charge the same on a short flight versus a long one.”
According to Yahoo, the bag fee profits “account for a small piece of airlines’ revenues for the [second quarter] period, in which they racked up a combined net profit of $3.6 billion. Ticket fares were up 8.18 percent for the quarter.”
Southwest continues to be the best option when it comes to checked baggage – they are the only carrier that waives fees for the first two bags.
“Bag fees are not in the equation,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said Monday.