Airlines Collect Record-Breaking $6 Billion in Bag/Change Fees in 2012

New government figures released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show 2012 was a big year for airline fees – the biggest in fact since most airlines began imposing many of these fees back in 2008.

Airline Timeline of Fees

Delta Alone Rakes in $1.6 Billion

Leading the pack for fees were the top legacy carriers with Delta taking in the most for both baggage and reservation change fees.

Top 5 for Bag Fees

  1. Delta – $866 million
  2. United – $706 million
  3. American – $557 million
  4. US Airways – $516 million
  5. Spirit* – $168 million

*Spirit is one of the very few U.S. carriers to charge a carry-on bag fee although Frontier announced it will also add a carry-on fee of up to $100 for certain customers later this year.

Attention flyers – four airlines raise change fees

Top 5 for Change Fees

Once again, the legacy carriers came out on top.

  1. Delta – $778 million
  2. United – $661 million
  3. American – $518 million
  4. US Airways – $298 million
  5. JetBlue – $134 million

And More Fees

It should be pointed out that airlines collect more money from fees – for items such as meals, pillows and blankets, reservations by phone and even fees for soft drinks – but the charges for bag and reservation changes are the only fees tabulated separately.


Published: May 14, 2013