Reach for the sky! Airline fees ratchet higher

Delta Airlines passengers wait in line to check bags at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Calif.

A USA Today study on airline fees says the fees airlines are charging for overweight bags and regular check-in luggage are the highest they've ever been. The news that one airline is even charging for cabin baggage threatened to give the Marketplace Daily Pulse a cardiac arrest today.

USA Today tracks 13 carriers. Their report, published today, said for an overweight checked bag weighing 71-100 pounds, Continental Airlines is charging $400 on most international flights, and American Airlines is charging $450 on its Asian flights. United Airlines charges $400 for checking bags weighing 71-99.9 pounds on flights to another continent.

Fees for a first checked bag, which were nominal when airlines began them four years ago, now go up to $43. Spirit Airlines charges $38 for a domestic flight and $43 for an international flight for the first bag checked in at an airport.

Spirit Airlines is the only carrier charging for carry-on bags. Spirit fliers pay $30 for notifying the airline online about a carry-on bag, $35 when calling on the telephone and $40 at the airport.

For those people interested in avoiding fees - or at least minimizing their exposure, the website farecompare.com has a nice little guide to fee-dodging. My favorite of the list of things you should do:Do not fly Spirit.

One thing seems pretty clear. There's no pint in feeling nostalgic about the era of no fees. farecompare predicts even more fees to come, including:

Charging for soft drinks and water on domestic flights
Charging for infants
Charging for meals in coach on transoceanic flights
Charging for overweight carry-on bag.

Brace yourself.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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