This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics released some fantastic news — that is, if you’re a major shareholder in a US-based airline. A recent report from the US DOT shows that for the 10th straight quarter, US-based airlines earned in excess of $1 billion in baggage fees alone — news that’s far from fantastic for passengers.

The US DOT report found that airlines earned nearly $1.3 billion in bag fees in the third quarter of 2018. Additionally, airlines have raked in more than $3.6 billion in bag fees during the first nine months of 2018. This past quarter, almost 3% of earned revenue for US airlines came from bag fees. American Airlines has earned the most through baggage fees, understandably so as the airline is the largest passenger airline by passenger volume.

While American Airlines might have earned the most in bag fees through the third quarter, American earned far less per passenger than other airlines. Frontier and Spirit had by far the largest fee-per-passenger ratio. This is thanks to the ultra-low-cost business model used by both Frontier and Spirit. While the base fare is typically lower on both Frontier and Spirit, neither airline includes carry-on or checked luggage in the price of a ticket.

Spirit Airlines Bag Sizers at Check-In

All three major airlines including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines have raised the price of the first checked bag from $25 to $30. Other major US airlines including Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue have also upped the price to check a bag. This will ultimately mean even greater numbers in future quarters.

Featured image via Shutterstock

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card



CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.