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Banking On Your Bags

Monday, December 13, 2010 - 3:32pm

If you plan on flying this holiday season, keep the cash or charge card handy.

Baggage fees have been so lucrative for the airlines that some hotels are now offering to pick up your baggage tab just to get your business once you arrive.

"Hotels are really trying to do their part to offset not only these ancillary fees, but just the higher costs than people are paying for airline tickets in general, particularly over these holiday travel periods," says Orbitz Travel Editor Jeanenne Tornatore.

Exactly much the major airlines made last quarter off baggage fees will be reported by the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics on Monday.

We already know fees grossed nearly $1.7 billion for the airlines in the first half of the year and added even more in the third quarter.

But are they close to maxing-out?

"Ultimately, I think the airlines realize that they're going to hit a ceiling on how much money that can derive from baggage fees," says AOL travel editor Beth Caulfield.

If that happens, travel experts expect the airlines to resort to other fees.

"I think some of those will include in-flight WiFi, continuing to bundle things like premium boarding and premiums seats, uh, some new meal options and other things like that," says Caulfield.

It's probably not what travelers want to hear heading into the holiday travel season.

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