50 airlines collect $22.6 billion in extra passenger fees in 2011

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Fifty airlines throughout the world collected $22.6 billion from bag fees and other extra passenger charges last year, according to a study released Monday.

The fees that air passengers pay to check bags, change reservations, upgrade to roomier seats and buy food and drinks, among other fees, have grown steadily for the past four years, representing a major share of total revenues for most airlines, according to the study by Wisconsin-based IdeaWorksCompany, a consultant on airline revenues, and Amadeus, a travel technology firm based in Madrid.

The latest study looked at the financial reports of 108 airlines across the globe, including 50 that disclose extra passenger fees, known as ancillary revenue.


In 2011, those 50 airlines collected $22.6 billion in ancillary revenue, compared to $21.46 billion in revenue from 47 airlines in 2010, according to the study. In 2009, 47 airlines collected $13.47 billion in ancillary revenues, the study said.

Ancillary fees grew in popularity among airlines following the great recession, particularly among low-cost airlines. Extra passenger fees now represent 33% of total revenues for Florida-based Spirit Airline, one of only two airlines that charge a fee for carry-on luggage, the study found.

The recently merged United and Continental airlines combined to collect $5.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2011, the most of any airline in the world, followed by Delta Air Lines with $2.5 billion, the study found.


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