Spring air travel to reach high numbers in fees, passengers

(WJLA) - By all appearances, the friendly skies will be less than congenial this spring – with more travelers, more fees, and more frustration.

This March and April, airplanes will be jammed with passengers, as more than 129 million travelers are expected to take to the skies – the highest number since 2008.

"Business travelers probably more than vacation travelers are gonna be easier to deal with," says Valerie Brown.

So what’s behind this increase in travelers? Is it the economy or winter cabin fever?

"I think it's a little bit of everything -- yes, the economy has improved, which is helping, but I think this winter has been so bad it has spurred people to book trips," explains USA Today Travel Editor Ben Mutzbaugh.

International travel will also be breaking records this spring, with approximately 17 million people boarding flights. This could spell bad news in particular here at Dulles airport, where on any given day, it takes international passengers about two hours to get out of customs.

And then – there are the fees.

United became the first major airline to announce plans to enforce its tight carry-on bag restrictions. If your carry-on doesn’t fit into this tight bin, you’ll be forced to turn back and check it and pay the $25 fee.

That will end up costing professional speaker Larry Bell a lot of money:

"The bags cost more, especially if they're a little bit overweight, they'll cost more than your ticket than you pay to fly with," he says.