We have previously discussed the dysfunctional effects of baggage fees. Airlines have made air travel a punishing experience with passengers now carrying huge bags on the airplane to save money. The result is that some airlines have actually told travelers not to put their computers or jackets in the overhead compartments — penalizing those who do check their bags. Now a report confirms what we all knew: airline baggage and other add-on fees have gone up 96 percent in just three years. That is an extra $21.5 billion for the airlines with United Airlines leading the pack.
Wisconsin-based IdeaWorks found that 47 airlines charged $21.5 billion for ancillary fees in 2010. United Continental pulled in $5 billion last year in such fees.
Delta took second place in this dubious competition with $3.7 billion followed by American with $1.9 billion.
I now try to avoid air travel because it is so unpleasant from long security lines to the cattle car environment with baggage on the airplane. Everything has been cut out if it constituted a comfort. Airlines now charge extra to have room for your legs. The leg room in coach is now virtually zero for a person with average height. It is virtually impossible to use a computer and, if the person reclines in front of you, you are left with a seat pressed firmly against your knees. First class is now what coach once was and coach is what baggage storage once was. The baggage fees have made security lines longer and made taking off a truly hellish experience on many flights. In the meantime, cases of entrapped passengers on planes and fights due to seating discomfort continue without any response from regulators.
With an army of lobbyists at their disposal, airlines have made sure that Congress has done nothing to help average travelers. Airlines are steadily moving toward the cattle-car approach of Ryan Air with standing-only flights, reduced crews, and paid toilets.