Billions of dollars in checked baggage fees and charges for making changes to reservations helped fuel large profits for the US airline industry in 2017, according to a new report from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The 23 leading US airlines reported cumulative after-tax profits of $15.5 billion last year, up from $14 billion in 2016 — an increase of 10.2 per cent.
Revenues totalled $175.3 billion, including $130.5 billion from air fares, $4.6 billion from baggage fees, and $2.9 billion from reservation change fees.
The calculations did not break out revenues from other sources, such as fees paid for preferred seating assignments and on board sales of food, beverages, pillows, blankets, entertainment, and wifi access.
For US airlines, the greatest success came from domestic flights: after-tax net profits on domestic routes rose to $13.4 billion from $10.3 billion in 2016, while profits on international routes declined from $3.8 billion in 2016 to $2.1 billion in 2017.
Higher fuel costs cut into airline profits in 2017, rising 16.3 per cent over 2016.