Bags were checked for free. When you drove up, someone would help take your 5 pieces of hard sided free luggage from your car. You might never touch it again until the other side when someone helped load it into your car or taxi.
We don't live in those times anymore.
Bags were checked for free in most airlines outside the US just 4 years ago. And they still made profit... LH, AF, KL, BA, IB, OS, AZ... It was free everywhere here in Europe. Also was food (for food, maybe make it 10 years ago). Aviation always finds a crisis (for instance, high fuel costs) to put a restriction to passengers, or to ban something, or to charge something else, but then forget to take it out. Is like taxes in a country. Not many years ago, changing a ticket at the check in counter for an earlier flight was something appreciated by the airline staff. You flew earlier, on an empty seat. Your seat can be sell again. And you get home earlier. A win-win situation for the airline and the passenger. Now, there are so many fines, restrictions, surcharges, fare codes, that is close to impossible. The time you spend on the phone trying to have it fixed makes it simpler to wait for your original flight...
My father, back in the 90s, flew 4 times a week domestic in Argentina (TUC-AEP-TUC-COR-TUC), and knew the schedule by heart (5 flights a day to AEP) to arrive earlier to ask to change to an earlier flight. He never paid for it. There was no status, nothing, in those days. Sure, in TUC they knew him (they knew me at one point) because the airline staff is no more than 10 people.
During times of economical hardship in a country, the government may rise the taxes. But when the crisis is over, they forget to bring taxes down to the previous level. At least so it's been in Argentina. VAT of 21% was risen on 1995 economical crisis. Almost 25 years later, is still 21% because of new laws each year saying: the crisis is not over (maybe is a new crisis every year, I'm not sure, but we keep paying an emergency tax 25 years later).