Bad as that is, though, it pales in comparison to the good old "change fee" of up to $150. You may not know about this fee if you haven't flown lately, or even if you have and simply haven't changed a ticket -- but alter your itinerary at your financial peril!
It could be worse, especially when you consider the buzz over the possibility of oil jumping to $100 a barrel this year.
My fee predictions for the year include: a charge for lap infants -- children under the age of 2 who share a seat with an adult (something we're already seeing this in Europe); a charge for overweight carry-on bags, which is already the practice at Hawaiian Airlines; and then there's the possibility of charging coach passengers for transoceanic meals, and charging them for water and sodas on domestic flights.
If that last one sounds familiar, it's because US Airways tried it back in August of 2008. It went over about as well as Ricky Gervais' Golden Globe performance (though he made me laugh out loud); apparently, the airline expected all its rivals would join in and when they didn't, US Airways quietly dropped the whole thing. I think someone else will try again this year, and soon the nation's airspace will be filled with the sound of flight attendants sweetly saying, "Diet Coke? That'll be two dollars."
Let's let the beleaguered Mr. Hart of the horrendous bag fees story get in a final word: "From now on," he told me, "I'm traveling light."
I suppose if anything can teach us to use a carry-on, the prospect of thousands of dollars in fees can.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.