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All those checked bag fees add up — a new report says airlines collected a whopping $31.5 billion in fees last year, a number higher than the gross domestic product of Jordan.
The $31.5 billion actually just includes the world's 59 largest airlines. The number is especially astounding considering that a 2007 report tallying 23 large carriers found them pulling in $2.45 billion in fees. Much has changed in six years, with fees for everything from extra leg room to additional carry-ons to early boarding to meals on cross-continent flights. The average flier paid about $16 in fees in 2013. United made the most from fees, collecting $5.7 billion; Delta, in second, made less than half that with $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, super-cheap Spirit Airlines made 38 percent of its overall revenue from charges and fees.
The International Air Transport Association, the trade group for the world's biggest airlines, reported late last year that it "expects industry profits to hit a record $19.7 billion in 2014, an increase of more than 50% on the $12.9 billion estimate made for 2013," The Economist reported. Still, the airline industry doesn't pull in huge profits; much of the money they make is sunk into purchasing jet fuel.