Passengers are giving in to airline baggage fees

Travels are learning to live with baggage fees and it's helping airlines turn profits.

Airline passengers in North America are slowly resigning to airline baggage fees as just another reality when you take to the sky.

The 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Study, a survey of more than 11,800 passengers put out by J.D. Power & Associates, found that while customers still don't like baggage fees, the impact it has on their overall satisfaction with airlines is dropping. That can be seen in the narrowing of the gap in overall satisfaction between those who checked bags and those who didn't. In the study, overall airline satisfaction is measured on a 1,000 point scale. In 2013, the difference in satisfaction between bag checkers and non-bag checkers was only 63 points, down from 85 points in 2012, and 100 points in 2011.

More people also see baggage fees as "reasonable." Thirty-seven percent called the fees reasonable in 2013, up from 28 percent last year and 18 percent in 2011.

"Charging for bags still has a pronounced negative impact on passenger satisfaction, but with each year, passengers are increasingly more accepting of carriers unbundling baggage and other fees," said Ramez Faza, senior manager of the travel practice at J.D. Power & Associates.

Overall customer satisfaction levels are now on par with what they were before airlines began charging for bags. And that's a good thing for airlines since last year they brought in $6 billion in baggage fees and change-in-reservation fees, the most since the fees became common in the industry about five years ago. And, as AP points out, it's also the difference maker in airline profitability.

Photo: Flickr/hoyasmeg

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