Airlines Baggage Fee Revenue Starts to Flatten

Make no mistake, the airlines are still raking in plenty of money from bag fees – more than $1.6 billion during the first six months of this year alone.

However, in the second quarter of 2011 (April, May and June), the numbers were down slightly from the year before. Here’s a comparison:

Baggage fee revenue: 2011/2010

  • Q1: $783 million/$768 million
  • Q2: $886 million/$891 million

Notice how the amount of bag fees collected in the second quarter of the year dropped by a little more than $5 million. True, it is not a lot, and the total for both quarters of this year was $1.67 billion which is still higher than 2010’s $1.66 billion, but not by much. It may be that some flyers have reached their breaking point on bag fees and are using carryons more frequently.

The 6 Most Outrageous Airline Fees

Which Airlines Collected the Most Fees

Once again, the champion fees collectors so far this year are the same airlines that collected the most bag fee money for all of last year:

  1. Delta
  2. American
  3. US Airways

The real story on how fees are trending will no doubt unfold once the Bureau of Transportation Statistics collects the rest of the data for 201. We will have those figures when they become available in the spring.

How Fees Change the Way We Fly

Passengers who hate these optional airline fees – for checked-bags and services like early boarding – preferred seating and even food-for-purchase, are out of luck. These fees now represent a huge revenue stream for the airlines, and they will not go away.

What does an airline CEO have to say about fees and angry passengers?

They have changed how we travel, too. Boarding used to be a relatively painless procedure but now takes longer than ever thanks to the growing number of passengers who have switched to carryons. This leads to boarding delays as more and more people “fight” over shrinking bin space in which to stow their carryons.

Expect to see more fees for previously free services such as Spirit’s new $5 charge for printing out boarding passes by airline reps, which goes into effect Jan. 24.


Published: October 31, 2011