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Airlines collect record fees in 2012

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SAN DIEGO — Airlines across the United States collected $6 billion in baggage and reservation change from passengers last year.

The 15 largest carriers raked in $3.5 billion in baggage fees alone — a record since those fees took off five years ago.

Airport unveils new baggage screening systemDelta led the way with nearly $866 million in baggage fees — followed by United and American.

“If you’re by yourself that’s okay.  But when you’re flying with children or with a family, luggage and restrictions do play a part in who you choose,” said El Cajon resident Ana Bowman, a frequent flyer with Southwest Airlines because of their “bags fly free” policy.

The $6 billion in fees represent the profit margin between the airlines’ revenues and expenses.

The fees are expected to only go up.

Some tips for travelers — plan ahead, pack light and know the rules. is a free search tool to find out about airline policies and discounts.