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October 27, 2011

Airlines generate $1.5 billion in bag fees and change fees in Q2, BTS says

Airlines generated more than $1.5 billion in baggage fees and reservation change fees in the second quarter, a government report said on Thursday.

In its quarterly airline financials report, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics said that domestic carriers received $887 million in bag fees during the quarter, down slightly from the same period last year. Over $612 million was generated from reservation change fess, the BTS said.

Fort Worth-based carrier, American Airlines, ranked second behind Delta Air Lines in collecting the most bag charges, reporting $152 million in bag fees. Dallas-based carrier, Southwest Airlines, which does not charge for the first two checked bags but does charge for oversized and the third bag, ranked 14th, collecting $8.4 million in bag charges.

It is unclear how much revenue airlines generate from other ancillary fees such as pillow and blanket charges, food for purchase and priority boarding access. However, the Transportation Department issued a proposed rule in July that would require airlines to report revenues in 16 additional categories for fees and charges. The department is currently reviewing public comments made on that proposed rule.

As an industry, the BTS said that domestic carriers reported operating revenues of $38.6 billion for the quarter and operating expenses of $36.6 billion.

Here are the top ten airlines that collected bag fees in the second quarter. The figures are in thousands of dollars.

Rank Airline
2Q 2010 2Q 2011 Percent Change
1 Delta  $255,950 $226,291 -11.6
2 American     $152,059 $156,114 2.7
3 US Airways   $135,601 $134,752 -0.6
4 Continental   $91,031 $91,332 0.3
5 United   $84,824 $71,111 -16.2
6 AirTran   $39,204 $46,138 17.7
7 Alaska     $25,394 $40,270 58.6
8 Spirit  $16,811 $34,441 104.9
9 Frontier     $15,470 $18,015 16.5
10 JetBlue $14,012 $15,941 13.8

-Andrea Ahles

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