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checked baggage feesBy Joe Brancatelli

After the first full year of charging checked baggage fees on flights, the five remaining legacy carriers are racking up huge annual losses. American Airlines, for example, reported a full-year 2009 loss of $1.5 billion, and Continental reported a 2009 lossof $282 million. On the other hand, Southwest Airlines, the lone carrier that still permits all travelers to check two bags on flights free of charge, reported a $99 million profit in 2009.

So how have the legacy carriers reacted to their losses and Southwest’s profit? They’ve all raised their checked baggage fees again. It started with Delta Air Lines, which now charges $23 for the first bag and $32 for the second if you pay online or $25 and $35 at the airport. Within a dollar or two, all of the other legacy carriers matched. Southwest has been thrilled with this decision and has been advertising heavily to promote its bags-fly-free policy.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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