Skift Take

Extra fees are making airlines' profits healthier while keeping base fares low for consumers. They're on track to increase each year, which is becoming a good thing for the industry and flyers.

U.S. airlines made $4.7 billion from checked baggage and reservation change fees in the first three quarters of 2013, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

For the fourth consecutive year, Delta Air Lines is on track to beat out all other U.S. airlines in checked baggage and change fees, taking home $1.3 billion in revenues.

Delta’s share of fees is in line with its share of U.S. traffic. It carried 57.5 million domestic and international passengers in the first six months of 2013, more than any other airline. (Southwest’s passenger numbers are greater than Delta’s when AirTran’s passenger numbers are included. The BTS includes AirTran’s fee revenue in Southwest’s totals.)

Fourth quarter data will not be available until May 5, 2014.

Comparing the combined first three quarters of 2013 with the combined first three quarters of 2012, revenues from bag fees are actually down by $95 million year-over-year. That should be contrasted with the additional fees airlines are bringing in from change fees. Those are up $195 million year-over-year.

Airlines are ranked below by 2013 baggage and change fee revenue for Q1-Q3:

Rank Airline Baggage Fees ($) Change Fees ($) Total Fees ($)
1 Delta 635,301,000 636,926,000 1,272,227,000
2 United 471,450,000 572,997,000 1,044,447,000
3 American 382,883,000 400,955,000 783,838,000
4 US Airways 400,340,000 249,538,000 649,878,000
5 Spirit 158,728,000 23,943,000 182,671,000
6 JetBlue 55,378,000 107,766,000 163,144,000
7 Alaska 73,500,000 67,976,000 141,476,000
8 Southwest 117,638,000 22,992,000 140,630,000
9 Allegiant 95,589,000 7,052,000 102,641,000
10 Virgin America 43,911,000 24,305,000 68,216,000
11 Hawaiian 53,431,000 13,561,000 66,992,000
12 Frontier 47,057,000 9,552,000 56,609,000
13 Sun Country 12,343,000 1,436,000 13,779,000
14 Mesa 1,980,000 n/a 1,980
15 Island Air Hawaii 1,486,000 251000 1,737,000
16 American Eagle 12000 n/a 12
All 2,551,027,000 2,139,250,000 4,688,286,992

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics


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Tags: allegiant air, american airlines, bag fees, delta air lines, southwest airlines, spirit airlines, united airlines, us airways, virgin america

Photo credit: Delta Air Lines' passengers wait to check bags at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. James Emery / Flickr

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