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Airlines collect $3.4 billion in checked-baggage fees in 2010

June 13, 2011 |  3:46 pm

AmericanOntario The nation’s largest airlines collected $3.4 billion in fees charged to passengers for checking luggage last year, a 24% increase over 2009, according to new federal data released Monday.

Last year, the airlines also took in a total of $2.3 billion in fees charged to passengers to change reservations, down about 3% from the previous year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The agency has yet to calculate other miscellaneous airline revenues for 2010, including charges for in-flight food and beverages and fees to board early, to access in-flight Wi-Fi services and to transport pets.

Delta Air Lines collected the most in baggage fees, $952 million, followed by American Airlines, with $581 million, according to the statistics.

Most of the nation’s major airlines began to adopt such fees in 2008 to offset a sharp drop in demand, particularly among business travelers, in the midst of one of the worst recessions in a generation.
Even though demand for airline seats has increased and ticket prices are near pre-recession levels, the nation’s airlines continue to charge such fees, which now represent about 6% of the industry’s revenues.

“Most airlines have acknowledged that it is part of the business model that is, more or less, here to stay,” said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.

He added that the extra fees have helped the industry offset higher prices for fuel, which increased 27% in March over the same month last year.


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-- Hugo Martin

Photo: A passenger talks to an American Airlines employee at Ontario International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times