DALLAS ( TheStreet) -- It may seem disturbing to read that American ( AMR - Get Report) charges $450 to carry an 85-pound bag on flights to Asia, but would you like to know what FedEx ( FDX - Get Report) charges to do the same thing?

The overnight package carrier's charge is around $625 to $738 to carry an 85-pound package from New York to Tokyo, with delivery in four to five days. For delivery on the next flight -- which is what passenger airlines provide -- the charge is higher.

The point is that most of the U.S. media is consumed by anti-airline hysteria, so USA Today's recent annual survey on airline fees was picked up by various outlets, all eager to display how sympathetic they can be to the "plight of the common man." At least a dozen newspapers, blogs and TV networks have reported on the USA Today story, being sure to point out how unreasonable it all is.

The reality, however, is more complex than an easy-to-copy story about a seemingly outrageous fee.

First of all, American rarely charges $450 for a bag, says spokesman Tim Smith. "Shipping significantly overweight bags is a service that few customers use," he said. On flights to Europe or India, American won't accept bags weighing more than 70 pounds. On most other flights, to both domestic and foreign destinations, it charges $200 for a bag weighing 70 pounds to 100 pounds.

The $450 fee applies only to bags weighing 70 pounds to 100 pounds that are checked by passengers on flights to, through or from Asia. The reasons, Smith said, are that flights to Asia are long, requiring high fuel expenditures for heavy bags, and also that various competitors and partner airlines charge a similar amount. In particular, American does not want to refuse bags in transit that have already been transported by a partner.

Next to the $450 fee, the highest fee on the USA Today list is the $400 charged on United Continental ( UAL - Get Report) flights to inter-continental destinations for bags weighing between 71 pounds and 100 pounds.The fee on Delta ( UAL - Get Report) is $200.

"Shipping significantly overweight bags is a service we provide and we believe customers who value that service should pay for it," said United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson. "The fees we charge for such shipping vary by destination and are cheaper than other same-day shipping options."

Lastly, we have discovered an easy-to-utilize method that will enable every single person in the United States to avoid ever paying $200 or $400 or even $450 to transport a grossly overweight bag to Asia.

It begins with a simple question, "Do I really need to fly 12 pairs of socks to Tokyo?" and builds on that thought.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/tedreednc.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.