If you take the word \u201cfree\u201d and rip the \u201cr\u201d out of it, what do you get? Two things, actually: You get a \u201cfee\u201d \u2014 and then you get mad. This is happening to millions of airline passengers who are discovering that the advertised price of a ticket isn\u2019t the half of it. Airlines have added beaucoup fees, charging us for items that previously were \u2014 and still should be \u2014 free. People\u2019s rage-ometers zing into the red zone when they see that these fees-for-former-freebies will often more than double the cost of a trip. Like diabolical bankers did years ago, top executives of airline corporations have learned to goose up prices and profits \u2014 as well as their own pay \u2014 by nickel-and-diming customers. Only, their fees are way more than nickel and dimes. For example, say you schedule a flight, but something comes up and you have to change the time, day, or destination. Bam \u2014 airlines zap you with a $200 fee. Basically for nothing. Computers quickly make the change, costing the corporation a mere pittance. But rather than graciously accommodating your need and making you a satisfied customer, they pick your pocket and make you angry. Gouging and infuriating ticket buyers might seem like a poor business model for the long run, but airline CEOs these days insist that their duty isn\u2019t to please consumers \u2014 it\u2019s only to make their major stockholders happy by maximizing their short-term profits. And, indeed, the rip-off is very lucrative for the corporate elite. Airlines pocketed nearly $3 billion last year just from fees they charged passengers who needed to alter their flights. Forget the old tails of railroad heists. This is a great American plane robbery. OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He\u2019s the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.