$6 Billion Off The Ala Carte Menu

Baggage fees are a huge profit center


Go to a top-notch steak house and you know the routine. That $28 Porterhouse is exactly that. A steak on a nice white plate. Want a baked potato? How about the creamed spinach? Extra and extra. And you gladly fork it over for a complete meal.

A Pavlov response is completely understandable for a steak house.

But from the looks of numbers from the Department of Transportation, we’re also conditioned to paying ala carte prices for flying. Last year, Americans forked over more than $6 billion in baggage, cancellation and change fees on top of the ticket price.

Baggage fees make up most of these new charges. Delta, United and American account for 60 percent of such fees among the airlines and are closing in at the $2 billion mark.

So like many an Illinois politician, (with our last two consecutive ex-govenors, mind you, behind bars) we’re left saying, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money!” We wonder if baggage charges rack up so much dough, is there any direct benefit to speak of in our reader’s GSE budgets or anything at all related to ground support work? Or are we just like the lowly dishwasher in the back of the steakhouse washing the nice white plates? We’d like to know.

And if you like bar graphs and pie charts as much as we do, here’s a blogger who really excels at data-telling on the subject.