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.