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Airline bag and change fee revenue hit a record $6.4 billion in 2014 and the third quarter, propelled by summer travel, generated the highest fees, new data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show.

Bag fee revenue was up 5.3% year-over-year to $3.5 billion in 2014 from the 27 U.S. carriers with scheduled passenger service, a record high for U.S. airlines. Delta historically collects the most bag fee revenue each year and 2014 was no exception: The airline got $875 million from these fees, and United and American followed at $651 million and $574 million, respectively.

Airlines also notched a record year for change fees, collecting $2.9 billion last year, and that was 5.7% more than in 2013. Delta, United, and American also received the most revenue from these fees (see chart below).

Bag fees accounted for 2.1% of airlines’ total operating revenue and change fees claimed 1.8%.

Because of seasonality, the third quarter of 2014 accounted for the most bag and change fees and the first quarter the least.

There was also less fluctuation between the third and fourth quarters for change fees last year (down $10 million from the third to fourth quarter) compared with 2013 (a $40 million drop). Last year, the greatest increase happened between the first and second quarters when revenues jumped about $27 million to $752 million. The same scenario played out with bag fees with revenue jumping $109 million sequentially in the second quarter of 2014.

Last year’s largest decreases for both fee types occurred between the the third and fourth quarters — a $60 million decrease for bag fees versus an $83 million decrease for change fees.

U.S. Airlines Bag Fee Revenue 2014 ($ in thousands)

Rank Airline 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 2014
1 Delta 190,640 227,066 237,002 208,201 862,909
2 United 147,157 163,523 180,713 160,464 651,857
3 American 120,767 147,174 154,888 151,601 574,430
4 US Airways 128,934 135,632 126,221 120,494 511,281
5 Spirit 56,641 61,724 62,623 60,879 241,867
6 Frontier 22,139 30,381 46,143 46,190 144,853
7 Alaska 24,962 30,510 37,455 27,703 120,630
8 Allegiant 22,380 21,243 31,897 32,297 107,817
9 JetBlue 18,623 19,792 22,888 22,213 83,516
10 Hawaiian 17,304 18,965 20,892 18,936 76,097
11 Southwest 21,362 22,962 17,732 11,114 73,170
12 Virgin America 13,365 15,990 16,251 14,551 60,157
13 Sun Country 4,853 3,572 3,963 3,481 15,869
14 Island Air Hawaii 958 992 1,087 935 3,972
15 Mesa 883 0 0 0 883
All 790,968 899,526 959,755 879,059 3,529,308

U.S. Airlines Change Fee Revenue 2014 ($ in thousands)

Rank Airline 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 2014
1 Delta 220,251 223,834 226,140 205,156 875,381
2 United 194,003 205,802 211,078 191,700 802,583
3 American 131,739 142,307 143,032 136,750 553,828
4 US Airways 84,600 83,162 79,868 73,107 320,737
5 JetBlue 38,578 37,817 38,100 40,781 155,276
6 Alaska 23,765 23,975 24,155 20,766 92,661
7 Hawaiian 4,883 4,806 5,474 40,879 56,042
8 Spirit 9,096 9,443 9,787 10,063 38,389
9 Virgin America 9,238 8,956 9,342 10,281 37,817
10 Frontier 4,836 5,687 6,602 5,808 22,933
11 Sun Country 575 515 582 10,062 11,734
12 Allegiant 2,177 2,485 2,087 2,345 9,094
13 Southwest 1,909 3,845 2,201 243 8,198
14 Island Air Hawaii 148 167 164 121 600
All 725,798 752,801 758,612 748,062 2,985,273

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Photo Credit: U.S. airlines collected more than $6.5 billion in baggage and reservation change fees from passengers in 2014, the highest amount since the fees became common five years ago. David Goldman / Associated Press