Airlines' Bonanza from Baggage Fees up 33 Percent

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US airlines made 33 percent more in baggage fees during the first three months of this year compared to last, according to a report from the Transportation Department.

Revenue from fees for checked bags was $769 million this year, up from $578 million in the first quarter of last year.

The carriers also collected $564 million in fees for changed tickets, as well as $534 million in other ancillary revenue such as frequent flyer program award fees and pet transportation (fees for onboard services such as meals are reported separately).

The numbers, analysts told USA Today, show passengers willing to pay for services they consider essential.

"This has become a billion-dollar industry," says Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel. "This is clearly working for the airlines."

Don't look for the fees to go away anytime soon, she adds.

Spirit Airlines, which charges passengers for a variety of extra services, was shown in the new numbers to get 21.7 percent of its revenue from ancillary fees, by far the highest percentage of any U.S. carrier.

Photo, leonardjohnmatthews, flickr
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