2019 US airline baggage fees jump to $5.8 billion dollars

How many US airlines collected over $1 billion dollars in baggage fees in 2018? Just one. American Airlines.

As of Monday, the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its annual baggage fee figures for US airlines. In 2019, three major US airlines brought in over a billion dollars, each. Delta, United, and American Airlines now account for over $3.3 billion dollars of the total $5.8 billion dollars in baggage fees collected from US travelers in 2019.  Let’s take a deeper look at how much major US airlines brought in last year from these extra fees.

  • Delta, United, American

    It’s hard to imagine that less than 6 months ago travel demand was at record levels. With so many Americans traveling last year, it adds up that Delta, for the first time, collected over $1 billion dollars from baggage fees. United was not far behind with just over $1 billion dollars. Followed by American Airlines (the top baggage fee collector) with a hefty $ 1.3 billion dollars.

    While, only three major US airlines account for nearly 50 percent of total baggage fees collected in 2019, there are many other popular carriers that saw modest increases as well.

  • Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue

    The next largest baggage fee winners in 2019 were three widely different types of airlines. While, it is hard to place JetBlue and Spirit Airlines in the same in-flight experience category, their collective baggage fee revenue do.

    Spirit Airlines raked in over $750 million dollars (up $120 million from 2018). Frontier jumped nearly a $100 million dollars to close the year with $459 million dollars from baggage fees. JetBlue had a more modest jump and brought in $361 million dollars (increase of only $40 million dollars from 2018).

  • Allegiant, Alaska, Southwest

    Despite Southwest Airlines being famous for not charging baggage fees, it still does manage to collect a small amount of fees from extra baggage. Southwest generated a modest $50 million dollars with no meaningful increase from what they charged passengers in 2018. While, Allegiant Air collected $265 million dollars (an increase of around $50 million dollars or what Southwest charged passengers for all of 2019). Last, but not least, is Alaska Airlines, bringing in $327 million dollars from baggage (up from $279 million dollars in 2018).

In 2020, it’s very unlikely that US airlines will collect anywhere close to the amount of baggage fee revenue that they did in 2019. With that said, collectively, US airline baggage fee revenue jumped close to 15 percent last year or nearly $1 billion dollars from 2018 totals.

Let’s hope the airlines can get by in 2020 with a bit less travelers boarding their planes. If not, they may have to find new and creative ways to generate revenue like higher tickets or, dare we say, increased baggage fees.