Airlines made a lower percentage of net income from ticket fares in 2014 than ever before, according to a report released earlier this week by the Department of Transportation. In contrast, airlines recorded over $6 billion in profits from baggage fees and cancellation and change fees -- continuing a major income stream that started in 2008.
According to the Airline Financial Data report, airlines collected $3.5 billion in baggage fees, up from $3.3 billion in 2013 and $3.4 billion in 2012. Delta, United, American and US Airways were the top earners in terms of baggage fees. Industry-wide, the large chunk of change from baggage fees resulted in 2.1 percent of total operating revenue.
Reservation change fees brought in roughly $3 billion, or 1.8 percent of total operating revenue. Again, Delta, United, American and US Airways made the most money from change fees. Delta did not respond by time of publication to an inquiry from The Huffington Post.
Charlie Leocha of the advocacy organization Consumer Travel Alliance told the Associated Press that he's in favor of a proposed federal rule that would require airlines to more fully disclose how much hidden fees will increase a passenger's total charges. It'll be tough to make airlines more transparent about ticket fees unless the government steps in, as it did with shrinking seat sizes on planes.
In the meantime, pack light and use carry-ons rather than checking luggage every chance you can, and try to avoid changing your ticket once it's booked. May the odds -- and airlines -- be ever in your favor.
H/T Flyer Talk