The 5 Most Obnoxious Airline Fees in the Sky Today

Airlines are increasing fees for baggage, tickets and pillows. Some fees are absurdly high, but passengers are getting better in avoiding them.

By Jason Notte

Vacation travelers are getting much better at taking a break from airline fees.

According to the Department of Transportation, U.S. airlines collected $3.35 billion in baggage fees last year. That's an oversized haul, but down from $3.49 billion in 2012. Yep, that's $100 million passengers kept out of the hands of money-grubbing airlines that seem to be in constant battle with their customers, their pilots and their competitors who don't see why either need to be flogged just for having the misfortune of running across the airlines in question.

The airlines are only doing it to themselves. Since American Airlines (AAL) introduced the first checked bag fee in 2008 ($15, which has since climbed to $25), airlines shocked everyone into packing a carry-on. As a result, airlines can only gate check those bags for free once the overhead bins are stuffed. They also made elimination of baggage fees a basic tenet of their loyalty programs, and card carriers have caught on. Also, it hasn't escaped anyone's notice that those fees are just 1.7 percent of the $199.7 billion in revenues airlines made last year overall. But what about their profits, you say? Up to $12.7 billion last year from $98 million the year before.

So, yes, those baggage fees are worth ducking, as are the reservation-change fees carriers have begun tacking on. The latter fees accounted for $2.81 billion alone. The $6.16 billion in combined baggage and change fees is up from $6.06 billion last year, making baggage fees just one of the pitfalls travelers need to avoid.

Yet outrageous airline fees are all over the place. With help from travel pricing and guidance website Smarter Travel, we've found five of the worst.

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It is cheaper to send your luggage via UPS to your destination. Send it to your hotel, have them store it for a few days and when you arrive you will actually have your luggage.

June 03 2014 at 1:41 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to petpetdon's comment

Great idea.

June 03 2014 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply