Airlines Raked In A Record $6 Billion In Baggage & Change Fees Last Year

Feeling lighter in the wallet when you travel? It’s no wonder — in 2012, U.S. airlines raked in a record $6 billion in baggage and change fees from passengers. That’s higher than any other year since such fees became de rigueur five years ago. Oh, and it’s going to keep piling up, because airlines are having fun swimming around in the piles of money they’ve made off such fees.

Checked bag fees started in 2008 and it’s all been downhill (or uphill, depending on how you look at it) from there, with fees ranging from about $25 for the first to $35 for the second bag. If your bag is too heavy or too ginormous, that’s another fee.

Bag fees from the nation’s 15 largest carries brought in $3.5 billion total in 2012, an uptick of 3.8% from 2011, based on figures from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics cited by the Associated Press.

Fees for changing reservations saw the money come flowing in as well, for a total of $2.6 billion, a 7.3% increase over the previous year.

So who was the richest in fees of them all? Delta yet again this year, with $865.9 million just from baggage fees. It also had more passengers than any other airline, however, so it makes sense. That works out to about $7.44 per passenger, which is par for the course.

Fee fans and low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines charged the most per passenger last year at a rate of $19.99 on average.

All those averages are bound to go up , as a group of airlines including American, Delta and United all raised the fee for changing a flight reservation from $150 to $200 recently.

Airlines collected record baggage fees in 2012 [Associated Press]