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Airlines collect 33% more from baggage fees

June 29, 2010 |  5:56 pm

Airline baggage at LAX The nation's 10 largest airlines collected nearly $770 million from baggage fees in the first three months of the year, a 33% increase over the same period last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Despite the increase, the total amount collected by the same airlines from all ancillary fees dropped by 1% over the same period, to $1.86 billion.

The numbers suggest that travelers are paying to check bags but are foregoing other fees, particularly charges to fly standby, to transport pets, to change flights and to buy frequent flier award miles.

Such ancillary fees do not include the revenue airlines generate from the sales of food, drinks, pillows, blankets and entertainment on flights. Totals for those fees are not reported separately by the Department of Transportation.

The latest revenue numbers come as travelers begin to fly in greater numbers after nearly two years of slumping demand. To make up for the declining revenue, most airlines have adopted new fees, with charges for checking luggage generating the greatest revenue for airlines.

Delta Air Lines, which recently completed its merger with Northwest Airlines, reported the largest revenue from baggage fees, $218 million, a 112% increase over the same period last year, according to the Department of Transportation. Delta charges $25 for the first checked bag, $35 for the second and $125 for a third bag, with small discounts for paying online.

--Hugo Martin

(Photo: Passengers check luggage at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times.)
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