In 2010, U.S. airlines collected 10% more in fees from checked bags and changed reservations for a total of $5.7 billion, which helped to offset losses incurred from higher fuel costs.
Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) topped both categories, with the most checked bags and changed reservations, accounting for more than a fifth of the total. In second overall was American Airlines (NYSE:AMR), then United Airlines and Continental Airlines, which have merged to become United Continental Holdings (NYSE:UAL).
Many airlines now charge up to $25 for the first checked bag and more for each bag after that, a practice that began during the beginning of the recession when travel fell sharply but the airlines knew they couldn’t get away with increasing fares to buoy revenue. And now the measures taken during the height of the recession remain in place in order to combat higher fuel costs.
Of course, passengers aren’t too happy with these new measures, especially because airlines aren’t always transparent or up front about their fees, often blindsiding customers with higher than expected prices. The government has given airlines a deadline for making bag fee and fare information easily accessible, and has also mandated a boost in compensation for passengers who are bumped from their flights, but the airlines are pushing back, asking for more time to institute these measures, which are likely to cost them.
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