a close-up of a couple of suitcases

That’s dollars, not rupees.

If you’re a traveler who feels slightly begrudged every time you saunter up to the airline bag drop desk, or call to change a ticket – we want to give you fair warning: we’re about to pour gasoline on the fire. U.S. airlines are raking in the baggage and change fee dough at levels that would make even the most prolific Colombian drug dealers jealous. In fact, last year U.S. airlines took in 4.6 billion dollars in baggage fees alone.

a screenshot of a flight schedule2.9 Billion In Change Fees

Change fees are on the rise in the U.S. in 2018. And why wouldn’t be? In 2017, U.S. airlines made a collective 2.9 billion on change fees alone. Earlier this month, Alaska Airlines repealed their long standing passenger friendly policy of free changes outside of 60 days, in favor of a $125 change fee, plus any fare difference. American, Delta and United each charge $200, plus any difference in the price of the new fare. JetBlue charges between $75-$150 plus fare difference, depending on the type of ticket booked. Southwest meanwhile is missing out – only collecting a difference in change fee. With many customers unwittingly booking “basic economy” tickets and needing to change to a new fare to select a seat, these numbers are all but sure to rise. Want to save? Use Google Flights new features to filter out “basic economy” fares, securing the amenities you need the first time around.

a close-up of a couple of suitcases

4.6 Billion In Checked Baggage Fees

A million US dollars, 4,600 times. On bags that were once free. Did you just shudder? The rise of “basic economy” will undoubtedly bring these jaw dropping numbers even higher in 2018. As airlines limit basic economy passengers to things that can fit under the seat, customers requiring more will be forced to pay up for a standard fare or checked bag. U.S airlines charge $25 per bag, each way virtually across the board. This figure equates to about 92,000,000 round trip flights by U.S. customers in 2017. Hot tip: you can avoid checked bag fees all year by taking out a credit card with your airline of choice. Each major airline offers a card with priority boarding and most importantly, free checked bags.

Should we start an airline?

HT: CNTraveler

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I wouldn’t start an airline, but I would definitely consider starting a baggage handling company for a cut of that $4.6 billion!

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