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Faced with hefty fees, traveler abandons bags, creates airport headache

A traveler on Delta Air Lines Flight 1452 that arrived at New York's JFK International from Seattle on Tuesday morning was questioned by law enforcement officials after leaving several bags at the check-in counter at Seattle-Tacoma International.

The passenger apparently abandoned the bags to avoid $1,400 in overweight baggage fees.

That Delta check-in lobby at Sea-Tac was closed down for more than two hours, said airline spokesperson Morgan Durrant.

Working with Delta and Port of Seattle police, the Transportation Security Administration was able to identify the owner of the bags, said TSA spokesperson Ross Feinstein. “Law enforcement officials with the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey met the flight and interviewed the passenger upon arrival at JFK,” he said.

The officials determined there was no criminal intent by the passenger.

When the unattended bags were discovered, law enforcement officials at Sea-Tac did a visual inspection, X-rayed the bags, “and called in the bomb techs to help determine the contents of one bag,” said Sea-Tac spokesperson Christina Faine. “They determined there were no suspicious contents.”

For travel within the United States, one-way baggage fees on Delta Air Lines are currently $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second and $125 for a third bag. Travelers with overweight bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds are charged an additional $100; bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds cost $200. For travel to Europe, the first bag is free, but the charge for an additional bag begins at $100.

In 2012, Delta Air Lines collected more than $865 million in baggage fees, according the Department of Transportation — the most of any domestic airline. Overall, U.S. airlines raked in close to $3.5 billion in baggage fees in 2012.