Billions For Bags
irlines collected a record $7 billion last year in fees on baggage and flight changes, reflecting a steady rise in those fees since 2010, according to a government report Wednesday.
The $7.1 billion compares to $6.3 billion in 2010, in dollars adjusted for inflation, according to the Government Accountability Office. Consumer advocates complain that the growing fees make it tougher to compare prices.¬† Even as airlines say the fees cover choices are part the competition between carriers.
‚ÄúGoing to an airline check-in counter should not result in a last-minute shakedown,‚Äù said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who requested the study. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs time for the airlines to stop run-away fees.‚Äù
William McGee, aviation adviser to Consumer Reports, said travelers searching for an airline ticket should be told the full price up front including all the fees, whether the airline or a travel agent is selling the ticket.
The rising fees coincided with a profitable airline industry each year since 2010. Airlines reported $15.6 billion in net income last year, after a record under deregulation of $26.4 billion in 2015, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
‚ÄúThese fees are shrouded in secrecy and clouded in confusion, making it nearly impossible for passengers to price compare and make informed choices,‚Äù said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. ‚ÄúAnd these fees are rooted in the pursuit of greater profits ‚Äì not in offsetting travel costs to airlines. This shell game in the skies must end.‚Äù