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WHAT?! Just How Much Are Airlines Raking in from Baggage Fees?!

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$4.3 billion.

Airlines in the US have collected $4.3 billion in fees for checking baggage and changing tickets. This year.

To put that in perspective, that's roughly one dollar for every year since the earth accumulated enough mass from a solar nebula to officially become a planet. If dollars were years, airline fees would be almost as old as the earth.

And again, that's just for this year.

According to new information from the Transportation Department, Delta Air Lines leads this list with an astounding $1.26 billion in fees for this year -- the only airline to break the billion-dollar mark in 2010. Congratulations?

In second place, United Continental with $922 million. Despite dealing with more traffic than Delta, the company still was a healthy $300 million behind Delta in collected fees. That ought to really get you thinking when you have to sit spread-eagled in order squeeze into a coach seat on Delta.

Rounding out third place is American Airlines with $784 million. If you remember, this comes after American Airlines began charging $19-$39 in August for front row seats in coach. Those scamps! What will they think of charging for next?

Don't answer that.

And coming up way behind is Southwest Airlines. The fiscal numskulls behind Southwest don't bother to charge passengers for the first two checked bags, so those braniacs only collected $22 million this year on additional luggage.

Ha! And they call themselves an airline!
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