Airlines Bask in $29 Billion Worth of Your Baggage Fees in 2022

Airlines Bask in $29 Billion Worth of Your Baggage Fees in 2022

When you’re booking an airline ticket these days, it can feel like you have to pay extra for everything. From seat selection, to priority boarding and even snacks can all come with an additional fee these days. But nowhere are airline fees more tiresome than when it comes to your packed essentials, where carriers, around the world, managed to rake in more than $29 billion in fees last year.

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According to a report from consultancy firm IdeaWorksCompany and CarTrawler, airlines are tapping into the gold mine that is excess baggage fees in a big way, with revenue from charges accounting for 4.2 percent of global airline revenue.

The report, which was brought to our attention by Simply Flying shows that revenue from baggage was up by more than $8 billion in 2022, compared with the previous year. And, while that figure is below the pre-pandemic level of $32.9 billion in 2019, the report found that the percentage of the total revenue airlines now make on baggage fees is up from 3.7 percent just three years ago.

Airlines charge for checked bags, oversized luggage and sometimes carry-on. Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket (Getty Images)

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According to Simply Flying, airlines now have three main sources of luggage fees: checked baggage, added fees for heavy bags and fees imposed on larger carry-on bags. The site reports:

“For global network carriers, the baggage revenue is usually associated with basic-economy fares, while for low-cost carriers, baggage fees are typically charged to all consumers.

“That picture has changed, and now only eight airlines include checked baggage for their cheapest ticket types.”

As global carriers have sought to keep up with cheaper prices offered by budget airlines, many have introduced new tickets that don’t include things like carry on luggage or seat selection. Passengers that want to include these in their travel are then charged a fee to check their bags into the hold or carry additional luggage onboard the aircraft. This flexibility, the report argues, might actually be a good thing for customers:

“While no one is happy with paying for something once free, IdeaWorksCompany points out that baggage fees are good news for consumers. The report said they are a sign of ‘robust competitive behavior between traditional and low-cost carriers’ and that more network carriers in the Middle East and Asia ‘will gradually adopt a stronger a la carte approach’.”

But what do you think to this way of thinking? Are you happy having the flexibility to add carry-on bags when you need them, or would you prefer not to be charged for something that was once a given in airline travel?