Want to hear a number that will make you crazy? Last year, U.S. airlines raked in $3.5 billion in checked-bag fees. And that’s not the only place where they’re making money.
Delta, which carried the most passengers, collected more than $865 million in baggage fees.United came next, with $705 million. Even Southwest, which doesn’t charge for the first two checked bags, earned more than $144 million in fees.
The other big moneymaker for the airlines is charging a fee if you want to rebook or cancel your ticket. Again, Delta came out on top with $778 million, followed by United and American.
Many of the airlines have actually raised their change fees from $150 to $200 each way for a domestic ticket, so expect that figure to go up next year.
It’s those ancillary fees that are making the airlines profitable again, so they’re not going away anytime soon. The only good news? The government now requires that airlines make those fees transparent, so there are no surprises when you get to the gate.
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