Baggage Fees Soar as Fuel Prices Drop

Budget-conscious passengers cram overhead bins
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2009 10:37 AM CDT
Arman Garakani, left, gets money out to pay baggage fees to a skycap at the American Airlines bag drop at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – When airlines instituted new baggage fees, they said it was to offset high fuel prices. Since then, even though energy prices have fallen, the fees haven't gone anywhere but up. In the first quarter, airlines pulled in $566 million in fees, putting them on pace to double last year’s take, the Kansas City Star reports. “I feel frustrated,” said one frequent flier. “You’d think you could check one bag without paying a fee.”

Last week, Southwest, the only airline that still doesn’t charge for the first or second bag, doubled its fee for the third bag to $50. The rising fees have also had the unintended consequence of stuffing planes’ overhead compartments. The problem’s gotten severe enough that flight attendants are backing an Illinois congressman's bill calling for regulation of the size of carry-ons.