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Scott Mayerowitz
Associated Press|ap.org

NEW YORK — U.S. airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation change fees from passengers last year — the highest amount since the fees became common five years ago.

Passengers shouldn’t expect a break anytime soon. Those fees — along with extra charges for boarding early or picking prime seats — have helped return the industry to profitability.

Airlines started charging for a first checked suitcase in 2008 and the fees have climbed since. Airlines typically charge $25 each way for the first checked bag, $35 for the second bag and then various extra amounts for overweight or oversized bags. read more »

 

NEW YORK — The best way to reduce the federal deficit is through a combination of higher taxes and spending cuts, according to a group of economists.

The 236 members of the National Association for Business Economics who were recently surveyed say the country needs more fiscal stimulus through 2013, but by 2014 it should be time to throttle back. The reason for the delay: the sluggish nature of the country’s economic recovery.

A majority of the economists favor extending payroll tax cuts, current marginal income tax rates and current tax rates for dividends and capital gains for most or all taxpayers through 2013. Deep tax cuts that were passed under President George W. Bush expire at the end of December unless Congress takes action. At the center of debate: extending the cuts for everybody or just households earning less than $250,000 a year. read more »

 

NEW YORK — Some airlines are making travelers work harder to find a deal.

Carriers are offering more deals to passengers who book flights directly on their websites. It’s an effort to steer people away from online-travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, which charge the carriers commissions of roughly $10 to $25 a ticket.

While travelers save money, they also must do without the convenience of one-stop shopping.

Frontier Airlines is the latest carrier to jump into the fight, announcing Wednesday that it will penalize passengers who don’t book directly with the airline. Those fliers won’t be able to get seat assignments until check-in. And they’ll pay more in fees while earning half as many frequent flier miles. read more »

 
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