We've all been there: sitting on a suitcase, exhausted from trying to compress a trip's worth of gear down to carry-on size, and realizing dejectedly that it's not going to happen. Or maybe you're one of those people who have neither the time nor the patience to cram everything into a carry-on and would rather say, "Screw it, I'll just check the bag."
In either scenario, you've had to eat that checked-bag fee -- a $25 expense on most US airlines nowadays. For most travelers, handing over $25 or $20 here and there won't make or break a trip. But for US airlines, those checked-bag fees have added up over the years to one huge source of revenue.
We ran the numbers, in fact, and noticed a surprising fact. Since 2007, when the US Department of Transportation began tracking this statistic, to the first quarter of 2016, all US airlines combined have collected a total of $26.2 billion in checked-bag fees -- rivaling the $27.8 billion worth of Delta Air Lines, the most valuable airline in the country.
Every year since 2007, US airlines have collected more in baggage fees in the second quarter of the year than in the first quarter, which this year brought in $974.5 million. Factor in second-quarter bag fees, plus the tail end of the summer travel season, and we're willing to put our money on this outcome: by now, US airlines cumulatively have collected enough in baggage fees to buy any airline in the United States, in straight cash money.