Airline profits are soaring, so why is it still so expensive to fly?

In just the first three quarters of 2015, U.S. airlines made almost $18 billion in profit.

During that time, they were on pace to pass 2014's record of $3.5 billion in baggage fees, their planes flew 85% full, and the steep drop in fuel prices had the carriers cashing in.

"With everything from the seat to the baggage to everything being on as extras, and the prices are still not decreasing," passenger Rita Moss said.

Flyers lose ground in battle over shrinking airline seats

Jean Medina speaks for the airline industry. She said January's fare increase was modest, and that it was the first raise in a long time.

"What's good news for consumers is when airlines are profitable, customers, the communities, and investors and employees win because they're re-investing that money back in to the business," Medina explained.

The airline business is boom and bust. Since 1990, the industry has landed in the red 11 times. In 2005 it lost nearly $29 billion.

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"First class is getting more luxurious, but in the back they're squeezing us tighter than ever," said Charles Leocha, chairman of flyer's rights group Travelers United.

"The fact that oil now has dropped to such a low level has really given them a windfall profit, and some of that you would think might be shared with the consumers - either in the forms of lower fees or lower airfares, or perhaps by giving us a couple of extra inches in the airplane."

The airlines say ticket prices dropped three percent last year, but that pales in comparison to the drop in oil prices.