The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released their final figures for calendar year 2017 for the airline industry. The Bureau tracks different types of information on the 23 major airlines operating in the United States throughout the year. The final financial information for 2017 shows an after-tax income for the 23 carriers of $15.5 billion, which is a 10.7 percent increase over the previous year. This is the fifth year in a row that airlines have seen an increase in their bottom line. Fees for changing reservations also soared last year, bringing in $2.9 billion for the airlines.
The amount of baggage fees collected rose from the approximate $4.2 billion in 2016 to a total of more than $4.5 billion last year. American Airlines alone took in $1.1 billion in baggage fees.
The legacy carriers showed the highest amount of money collected for baggage fees in 2017. Delta collected $907.6 million followed by United at $794.5 million. Surprisingly, Spirit and Frontier Airlines, both ultra-low cost carriers, came in fourth and fifth place on the list. These two carriers are known to charge for every option used by passengers, including a fee for carry-on luggage.
Coming in at almost last place was Southwest Airlines. Southwest is one of the few remaining airlines that still allows you to bring two pieces of luggage for free on their flights. Southwest, however, is one of the leading carriers in the country in terms of volume.
The Bureau does not track income generated from other amenities offered by the airlines such as inflight meals and snacks, drinks, pillows and blanket charges, or other minor charges collected during a flight.