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Analyst: Baggage Fees ‘Essential’ For Airlines To Stay In Business

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV
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File Image (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

File Image (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a staggering number: $3.4 billion. That’s how much airlines made last year in baggage fees, according to a government report.

Passengers hearing the news are outraged. Scott Miller of Boston tell us, “It’s ridiculous.”

“It should all be inclusive no matter what. I just can’t see charging extra money for baggage,” said Bob Clinton, also of Boston.

However, analysts say if the airlines didn’t charge these baggage fees, they would actually be losing money.

“We may not like the bag fees, we certainly don’t love the bag fees, but they are an essential part of how airlines stay in business and make money,” said Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.

He says without the fees, we’d see airlines going bankrupt, which would mean tens of thousands of jobs, as well as higher ticket prices and fewer seats.

Some airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest don’t charge for the first check bag. Most of the others do. Delta made the most in baggage fees: $952 million.

Harteveldt says the fees aren’t going away.

“I expect them to go up because the cost of fuel keeps going up and that’s now 40% of airlines expenses. We, as travelers, don’t like paying alot for the airline ticket, so the airlines have to earn a profit somewhere. If they can’t earn a profit from the ticket, they’re going to look to other sources to make that profit.”

He said that in the future, we may see different fees, depending on the length of the flight.

How can you avoid the fees? Hardeveldt says look into airline credit cards because sometimes they waive the fee if you have one. Another option is to ask about earning elite flying status with a particular airline if you fly a lot.

And of course, there’s the obvious: pack less, and carry on.

Harteveldt sums it up like this: “We may not love ‘em, but kind of like our in-laws, they’re going to be around for a while.”

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