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Americans Spent an Extra $7.1 Billion in Baggage and Change Fees Last Year

Photograph by Lester Lefkowitz—Getty Lester Lefkowitz Getty Images

Flying is already pricy, but Americans spent an extra $7.1 billion in baggage and flight change fees alone last year, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report also showed that revenue from the two optional extra charges has increased over the past six years. In 2010, the 11 U.S. airlines made $6.3 billion on the combined fees.

Baggage fee revenues increased 12% going from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2016, the report found, while money collected from flight changes increase a bit more going from $2.5 billion in 2010 to $2.9 billion last year — a 14% increase.

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However, the GAO says this is more likely because of a greater number of passengers and airlines charging more fees for optional services rather than a change in flying habits. The report states that the number of passengers has increased by 14% in the same period.

Those two pieces are also very slowly becoming a bigger percentage of airlines’ total revenue. In 2010, baggage and change fees made up 3.3% of operating revenue, according to the report. In 2016, that number grew slightly to 3.5%.

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