Airlines Reported to Collect an Estimated $36 Billion in Ancillary Fees This Year

Photograph and graphic illustration ©2012 Brian Cohen.

Airlines around the world will supposedly collect approximately $36.1 in revenue from charging ancillary fees such as for checked baggage and premium seats, according to the Amadeus Worldwide Estimate of Ancillary Revenues.

The six legacy airlines based in the United States are expected to collect $12.4 billion, accounting for 35 percent of the total for airlines worldwide. However, approximately half that amount will be from collecting revenue as a result of ancillary fees, while the remainder will be from the sale of frequent flier loyalty program miles to corporate partners such as credit card companies.

I have no problem with the airlines earning money from ancillary fees — as long as the passengers are not surprised with them before leaving their home or business to catch their flights, and as long as the fees are not unreasonable such as the ones Ryanair attempts to charge its passengers or outrageous as in $18,517.00 worth of fees.

In fact, I encourage airlines to be creative about charging fees on items and services which previously did not exist, such as premium meal service for passengers in the economy class cabin or a baggage delivery service.

However, I am against ancillary fees charged for ridiculous items such as for carry-on baggage. Give me a break. I also do not like when airlines — or any company, for that matter — are purposely opaque about what fees are charged, when and to whom.

It is also tough to swallow fees for items and services which used to be included in the airfare, such as meals on domestic flights and checked baggage. Then again, the airlines were losing a lot of money year after year during those days, and those fees are rather easy to avoid — especially if you are a frequent flier. However, I would not be against airlines charging ancillary fees for items and services which used to be complimentary — but in my opinion, it damages my trust in an airline which claims that by charging for those items and services instead of including them in the airfare, passengers who do not need such items and services simply no longer have to pay for them when airfares are not decreased once those ancillary fees are in effect. If an airline is going to charge $20.00 for checked baggage, then lower the airfare by $20.00 per person. This way, if a person wants to check baggage and knows that a fee is involved, then that person can pay the extra $20.00 that would have been paid when it was included in the airfare; while the person — me, for example — who does not need to check baggage should see the airfare lowered by $20.00. Hey — according to the airline, I automatically paid for it before ancillary fees were implemented, right?

Hmm…perhaps I should file lawsuits against all the airlines on which I was a passenger and seek refunds from all those times I did not check baggage even though it was included in the airfare.

Then again, if those lawsuits attain class action status and I win, I might get pennies on the dollar compared to what the attorneys would earn.

Anyway — in all seriousness — FlyerTalk members discuss airlines earning billions of dollars in ancillary fees.

What are your thoughts on ancillary fees charged by airlines?

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • averagejoe55 at 12:33pm November 06, 2012

    Being a frequent flyer with over 2 million miles across multiple airlines, I couldn’t agree more. Airline tickets are my largest expense and they just keep going up. The additional fees, while avoidable most of the time, are hard to swallow especially as the price of those fees keeps rising faster than fuel costs (which every airline uses to justify their structure.

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