Airlines Teach the Rest of the World to Pay for Checked Luggage

Travelers check in at the United counter at LaGuardia Airport in New York Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

The global airline industry is expected to clear a $12.7 billion profit this year, about 67 percent higher than in 2012. More tightly packed planes are the major factor for the income growth, but part comes from the dramatic surge in ancillary fees airlines are able to extract from their customers. Extra payments for checking bags or changing flight times, apart from the basic ticket cost, jumped to $36 billion last year, according to a report released today (PDF) by the International Air Transport Association, and are expected to “grow significantly” this year. The industry group estimates that 3 billion people will fly in 2013—the first time that mark has been reached—as more people in developing markets migrate into the middle class.

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