US airlines collect record-setting amount in bag and change fees

US airlines set a new record in the first three months of 2015 by collecting $1.6 billion from plane passengers who checked suitcases or made changes to their flight reservations.

US airlines collect record-setting amount in bag and change fees

US airlines set a new record in the first three months of 2015 by collecting $1.6 billion from plane passengers who checked suitcases or made changes to their flight reservations.

That amount is up 7.4 percent from the same period last year even though January to March is usually the slowest period for air travel.

That’s also the highest amount for the first quarter since bag fees started in 2008, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The fees climbed, in part, because more passengers flew at the start of the year and 3.2 percent more seats were filled.

The airlines also increased some fees and forced more passengers to pay them.

While the standard fee for the first checked suitcase remains $25, fees have been going up for the second or third checked bag or for overweight luggage.

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And more passengers are now subject to those fees, which can be as high as $200 per bag.

For instance, United Airlines recently reduced the number of bags some elite frequent fliers can check for free.

And JetBlue Airways announced in November that it will soon start charging for checked baggage for its cheapest fares, although it has yet to disclose the amount of the fee and when it would apply to passengers.

All of these add-on charges, along with falling jet fuel prices, helped the largest 26 US airlines post a combined $3.1 billion in profits during the first quarter.

Their net profit margin reached 8 percent, a significant jump from the 1.3 percent margin in the year before.

During the past 12 months, the airlines took in $3.6 billion in bag fees and another $3billion in reservation change fees, typically $200 for domestic tickets and as high as $1,000 for an international itinerary.

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