$900 Million Can’t Be Wrong: Why Airline Baggage Fees Are Here to Stay

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With all of the commotion over pat-downs, we’ve practically forgotten about the exorbitant baggage fees. And the airlines couldn’t be happier.

The overhead bins are more crowded than ever as passengers try to skirt the sticker shock on checked luggage. But for big-bagged travelers, the fees are a necessary evil of traveling. And the latest numbers prove that Americans are willingly paying the baggage fees, one of the few revenue sources helping to keep the airline industry aloft.

(More from NewsFeed: 10 Worse Alternatives to Air Travel.)

From July to September, airlines raked in over $900 million in checked luggage fees. That’s up 23 percent from the same period in 2009. And in the first nine months of 2010, the largest airlines brought in $2.6 billion from checked baggage charges. The biggest profiteer was Delta, with $1.26 billion taken in from passengers’ packed suitcases.

It seems like flyers are ditching their bags at the check-in counter, despite the fees. Hauling your overstuffed carry-on bag through the airport can wear out even the hardiest traveler. And fighting with other passengers for the overhead bin can put a damper on any flight.

(More on TIME.com: Are Baggage Fees Taking Advantage of Flyers?)

If the fees are here to stay – and if the major profits are any indication, they are – the message is clear: pack light or pay up. (via Chicago Tribune)