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1.3 Billion Reasons Why Baggage Fees Are Never Going Away

1.3 Billion Reasons Why Baggage Fees Are Never Going Away
Jennifer Billock

Nobody likes the extra expense and irritation of baggage fees — no one, that is, except for the airlines, which are making record amounts of money off the fees collected per person, per trip, catapulting their revenues into the billions just for these ancillary costs that passengers have to bear.

Airline baggage fees increased last year, again. The increase was only by $5, but it hurts the wallets of every passenger, especially those traveling with families. Now, on most major airlines, the cost for the first bag is $30 and the cost for the second is $40—meaning that a four-person family, each flying with one bag for both the flight to their destination and back home, will have to pay $240 in baggage fees alone.

Not that the airlines care, that is. They’re making absolute bank on the fees they’re collecting. In the first quarter of this year, major U.S. airlines pulled in $1.3 billion in profits on baggage fees. In the first quarter of 2018, they made $1.1 billion. It’s a revenue increase of about $170 million, MSN reported, based on data from the Department of Transportation.

It is possible to avoid those baggage fees, though. MSN shared five different ways to do so:

  1. Get a credit card with perks that include free baggage.
  2. Use that card until you get to Elite status.
  3. Fly Southwest, the only major airline not charging bag fees.
  4. Lighten up how much you pack so everything fits into a carryon.
  5. Check your bag at the gate, which is often free if the airline needs to do it.

[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)


  1. flyer166

    June 22, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I, for one, am happy about baggage fees. I can recall many times while checking in with my one bag standing behind some family travelling half way around the world with a slew of huge bags that flew for free. Who is suppoesd to pay for all that extra space and fuel consumed by those who used to game the system? Baggage fees are a fair way to equally distribute the costs of flying — you get what you pay for!

  2. snidely

    June 22, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Southwest can offer “free” bags because:
    1. Fares are high. Cost me more to fly OAK-SAN on several trips made 2 weeks in advance then to fly SFO-FLL on JetBlue. A couple of the WN day trips did not even require me to have a carry on-just a briefcase.
    2. Since a large number of WN flights are very short, people don’t often need check bags.
    3. We often take overseas trips (pleasure) with just carry-on. Why should I pay extra for so someone else to check some bags for free? There obviously is some extra cost for dealing with check bags. (It’s obviously not 30 or $40 per bag.)
    4. Humans do not have to eat every three or four hours. I have no need for “free” meals. I think I might get hungry, I’ll pack a sandwich. Obviously, your 9 to 15 hour flights would require some kind of food service.
    5. Paying for reserved seats is simply a money grab.
    6. Water should definitely be free. As I recall, the one time I got stuck on the spirit Airlines flight, they charge for water. It is common knowledge the passengers should drink plenty of water to compensate for the super dry air on a plane.

  3. m44

    June 22, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    There is a simple solution:
    the base price of the ticket must include ALL that is or might be needed:
    carry on, checked baggs, seat selection (first reserved first served), food and drink, water.
    Those who do not need some of those should be given a deduction from the base price.
    Same applies to any other “hidden” and “unearned” fees like the resort fees. If one cannot get a room without paying the resort fee – it means the advertised room price is a false advertisement. Guess who made false advertisement possible again?

  4. seigex

    June 23, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    revenue != profit

  5. OUTraveling

    June 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Baggage fees?.?.?

    What are those? I travel with a 90lb Pelican Case and have not paid a fee in years. I just use my NPPA press ID to knock down the $200 overweight fee to $50 and use my Amex airline credits for the difference.

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