Airlines make a tidy bundle ‘feeing’ us to death

I don’t fly so I can’t speak from experience here but the Wall Street Journal has been looking into some of the extra fees that airlines are charging and how much money those fees, which include cancellations, are making the airlines. Going through the new Department of Transportation filings these fees are making the airlines literally millions of dollars and they don’t show any sign of decreasing.

In February, the Transportation Department clarified rules on how airlines report ticket-change penalties to the government. The first-quarter numbers for 2009 offer the first accurate snapshot of how much consumers pay to make changes to non-refundable tickets. It turns out to be more than many realized.

Change and cancellation fees amount to an added 3.2% of U.S. airline passenger revenue, totaling $527.6 million for the first quarter. Business travelers pay the lion’s share.

With the information in a post on footnoted.org here’s a short list of some of the airlines and the money they’ve made on the various fees charged

  1. AMR, which is the parent company of American Airlines, using “other revenues” as a way to lump all the fees, which include cancellation and baggage fees, went up by 7% to $565 million
  2. Delta said its “other revenues” increased by $81 million during the quarter
  3. USAirways didn’t give a money figure but has said that their “ancillary items” has seen a hefty increase
  4. JetBlue will only say that “other revenue” was up by 7%

Of course some airline customers aren’t overly happy with this ‘feeing’ to death and Delta is facing several class action lawsuits challenging the baggage fees for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.