Despite reporting a loss totaling into the hundreds of millions of dollars during the final quarter of 2012, the nation's largest airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation change fees last year, a new report shows.
The Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics says that for the entirety of 2010, the ten largest airlines in the United States actually reported a net income of $201 million, which is way up from 2011. During that year, the airlines reported a net loss of $0.5 million.
The airlines surveyed in the study include Southwest, Delta, United, American, US Airways, ExpressJet, JetBlue, SkyWest, Alaska and AirTran.
Baggage fees are nothing new recently; most airlines began implementing them to cover fuel costs several years ago. Most recently, Frontier Airlines announced that they're raising fees for checking bags on passengers who book on sites not their own.
"That is crazy," says Samantha Dellovuono, a local airline passenger. "I didn't even know they could make that much off of just a checked bag because it's only $25 dollars, right?"
"I mean they are nickel-and-diming you," says Bob Sanchez, a passenger. "It makes it harder for you to fly. I mean it's just tough."
"For U.S. domestic flights, on all but the most expensive fares, the ticket price in many cases is a break-even proposition for an airline," Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst, told USA Today. "Fees are critical to how airlines earn profits."