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New year will bring higher fees for travelers flying on commercial airlines

A recent article published by Bloomberg Businessweek highlighted one reason why more travelers may be turning to charter services in the future — airlines are "ringing in the new year with a cherished ritual: new and higher fees."

New charges largely center on baggage, with checked bags costing more and "oversized" luggage being subject to especially high fees. Some airlines are even building fees into routine processes like seat selection. Virgin Atlantic recently announced that, starting in April 2014, it will be charging more than $40 for coach-class passengers to select seats on long-haul flights more than 24 hours prior to departure.

Passengers have already been feeling the financial squeeze brought on by rising costs. During the third quarter of 2013, airlines collectively took in about $879 million in revenue from baggage handling fees and $735 million from fees charged on ticket changes.

Delta has led the industry in this area, collecting a total of more than $1.2 million from baggage and change fees during the first three quarters. Following close behind were United, American and US Airways. The U.S. Department of Transportation is scheduled to release the total fee-collection figures for 2013 in May.

Hunter Keay, an analyst with Wolfe Research, told Businessweek that he considers it "incomprehensible" that airlines believe they can create value by imposing more "irritating fees" on their customers.

When travelers charter a private plane through Easton Aviation, they don't need to worry about being required to pay extra to choose a seat or bring a larger bag.