Just in case you were wondering whether airlines think the cost from aggravation to passengers is made up for by the money raised by slapping fees on checked bags, here is how much the domestic airlines collected in checked-bag fees during the fourth-quarter of 2008: $498.6 million. That's triple the amount they collected in checked bag fees in the fourth quarter of 2007.
This is according to a report today from the Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Six of the seven network carriers posted a combined loss of $1.7 billion in the quarter compared with $274 million in the 2007 fourth-quarter. Of the seven, only Alaska Airlines reported an operating profit.
Three low-cost airlines, Allegiant, Spirit and AirTran, had the top profit margins among the total 21 airlines -- network, low-cost and regional -- included in the report. Virgin America, Northwest and United had the largest operating loss margins.