United Airlines CEO: Checked Bag Fees Are Here To Stay, Just Part Of Doing Business

Despite Southwest Airlines’ recent admission that charging for bags would be a financially irresponsible policy change, it doesn’t appear that other airlines feel the same way.

Reuters reports that United Airlines, for one, has no plans to stop charging check bag fees, no matter what other airlines do.

The airline’s CEO Jeff Smisek defended the fees, noting that some passengers have “difficulty recognizing that we’re now a business.”

“They criticize us if we charge for more legroom. Let me tell you though: that’s what businesses do,” he said during an industry lunch on Thursday.

Smisek said that customers should expect checked bag fees to be based on a sliding scale, like extras offered by other businesses.

“If you want more data on your data plan so you can watch faster, better cat videos, you call AT&T, and they’re happy to increase your data plan,” he said. “And they charge you for it. That’s what businesses do.”

Airline checked bag fees, which range from $15 to more than $25, have become an important source of revenue for many carriers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the first three months of 2015 saw airlines collecting more than $864 million in revenue from the fees.

Despite those proceeds, Southwest said earlier this week that it isn’t doing so bad without the added fees. The company’s net income increased nearly $143 million over the past year.

Of course, hefty fees for checked bags could soon be a thing of the past, as legislators recently introduced the Baggage Fee Fairness Act of 2015 that would limit checked-baggage charges to just $4.50/bag.

United Airlines CEO: Checked bag fees are here to stay [Reuters]