Airline Baggage Fees Not Going Anywhere: South Florida Experts

Fees adding up and it could only get worse, experts say

Airline baggage fees have been causing headaches for travelers for years and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere soon, South Florida experts say.

Since 2008, when many grumbled at the thought of paying for checking a suitcase, it seems airlines have gotten more creative.

"You even pay for coffee and water, that's 100 percent pure profit from what they didn't make before," said Sylvia Berman, president of Post Haste Travel Services. "Terrible for the traveling public, great for the airlines."

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Berman says it's a losing game for customers.

"The airlines are making money off the backs of their travelers, and the ones being hurt the most are families," she said.

In 2012, the nation's largest carriers raked in a combined $3.5 billion in baggage fees, and $2.6 billion in reservation change fees. This according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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"It's nonstop! First suitcase $25. The second $35. The third one $60. It's a fortune!" said Gladys Mearovici, on vacation in South Florida from Canada.

Customers might call it nickel and diming, but those in the airline business say there's a flip side to the coin.

"The cost of maintaining an airplane is very, very expensive. You've got to give up something to get the cheaper fares," said Kurt Wallace, who manages a local packaging company.

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Unfortunately, experts say there's not a whole lot the customer can do except be prepared. Booking the cheapest flight doesn't necessarily equal the best deal.

"When they get to the counter to get on that airplane, now they are paying fees that in many cases make the airline ticket more expensive than if they bought one on one of the larger carriers," Berman said.

Her prediction: those extra airline fees are going nowhere.

"It's going to get worse. They have bull by the horns and they have the ability to make the traveling passengers pay as much as they want," she said.

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