Does your wallet feel a little bit lighter? A new USA Today analysis reveals that airline fees are on the rise, with some up more than 50 percent relative to a year ago. The study compares the extra fees (not to be confused with fares) of 13 airlines and shows just how important this revenue source is to the airline sector.
According to USA Today, “The numerous fees are a sore subject for many fliers, but their dissatisfaction hasn’t deterred airlines from bringing in record revenue from additional fees.”
The fees were good for $2.1 billion last quarter, with $893 million of it coming from checked bags and $600 million from changed reservations.
So, where did all this money come from? Here are five ways airlines have turned those extra charges into a big business:
1. First checked bag: most airlines in the United States hit you for up to $25 for the first bag you check, with only Southwest and JetBlue abstaining. Most charged $15 a year ago, according to USA Today, with four not playing this aspect of the fee game.
2. Change fee spikes: a year ago, the most expensive coach change fee was $250, charged by Continental, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways. This year, it surged to $300, an increase of 20 percent, charged by American Airlines for some international flights.
3. Pay to call: still resisting the internet? Booking by phone costs an extra $35 on US Airways, while Allegiant Air hits you for a $29.98 round-trip booking fee and another $14.99 for “convenience.”
4. Preferred seating: United asks for up to $159 for preferred seating, which can give you up to five more inches of leg room. A year ago, it would have set you back only $119.
5. Get a receipt: Continental (for which this isn’t new) – along with American, Hawaiian and US Airways – have an extra fee for passengers who want a receipt after they have taken their flights.
[photo by Deanster1983 via Flickr]