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Some airlines have added a $30 fee for a second checked bag on international flights, or raised existing fees by $5 to $10. Others are charging significantly more -- sometimes double -- for overweight or oversized bags.
The reason: higher fuel costs. Oil has risen 25 percent in just four months and now tops $100 a barrel. U.S. airlines have collectively raised fares eight times in that period, but have warned that might not be enough. Consider that while the cost of filling up your car has risen 17 percent so far this year, the cost of filling up a plane has gone up 25 percent.
American is now charging $30 for a second bag on flights to Central America and the Caribbean. United added a similar fee for travel between the U.S. and Canada, as well as Central and South America. Also, American's second-bag fee for trips to Europe is now the industry's most expensive at $60; it was $50.
JetBlue just raised its second-bag fee to $35, in line with most large U.S. airlines.
While you may be tempted to jam two bags worth of clothing into one, beware of overweight charges. As they expand, it's becoming more important to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport.
US Airways recently raised to $90 from $70 its fee for bags weighing more than 50 pounds. That's the standard starting weight for oversized bags, but Spirit Airlines recently began charging a $25 fee for bags between 41 and 50 pounds -- and even more for heavier bags. United's fee for extra heavy bags -- those between 71 and 99 pounds -- has doubled to $400.
It's not just weight that matters, though. Fees for big suitcases -- generally with a combined height, length, and width measuring over 62 inches -- are also going up. US Airways raised its fee to $175 from $100.
Raising fees for additional bags or extra weight risks less of a backlash than charging more for a first bag, which would affect more people. At US Airways, only 12 percent of the total bags it carries are second checked bags.
"I think they're just looking for some icing on their fee cake at this point," says George Hobica, founder of the travel website airfarewatchdog.com. "Passengers won't be appearing at the airport with pitchforks."40.71455 -74.00713
Some airlines have raised or added fees by $5 to $10.