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Airline luggage fees add up

May 12, 2009 |  3:35 pm

Luggage costs add up Airline passengers grumble about them but airline executives love them: Revenues from baggage fees topped $1 billion for U.S. airlines last year, helping offset losses from one of the worst travel downturns in memory. The total tally of $1.15 billion from bag fees was more than double what airlines made from the charge in 2007.

Until rising fuel prices last year prompted airlines to begin charging passengers, checking the first two bags was usually included in the fare. Passengers were charged only for bags that exceeded the weight limit or for any additional bags.

United Airlines was the first major carrier to begin charging $25 for a second checked bag. Then US Airways began charging even for the first checked bag. Most major carriers followed, with the exception of Southwest Airlines, which has criticized the fees and has used TV ads to mock its competitors.

With more airlines adding the bag fees, revenues could exceed $3.5 billion this year, according to Airline Information. That’s still not expected to erase industry losses, which climbed to $23.5 billion in 2008, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

-- Peter Pae

Photo: Passengers with luggage arrive at the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Gary Friedman