What the #$&! is going on with airline baggage fees?

Check this out: The latest luggage fee numbers, as reported by the federal government, show that the major airlines are collecting less for our checked suitcases. They haven’t returned to the early 2007 levels, which were still pretty reasonable, but well off the highs reached in the second and third quarter of 2010.

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What’s going on?

A few theories …

Airlines are not being as strict with their baggage policies. That may be true, but I doubt it. At a time like this, when every airline is pinching pennies, I’m more inclined to believe agents are being rewarded for charging the most luggage fees.

Passengers are traveling lighter. Oh, yeah. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Air travelers are trying to carry more on the plane. That’s my favorite theory. I think passengers are unwilling to shell out more money for their tickets, and are trying to take it all on the plane with them. Pity the flight attendants.

These numbers will almost certainly drop because of the Transportation Department’s new disclosure requirements for baggage fees.

For airlines, it looks as if the gravy train that was baggage fees has left the station.