Airlines made $27 billion in ancillary revenue in 2012, according to Ideaworks‘ Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue. Airline fees are growing at a shocking rate. Since 2009, ancillary revenue has increased more than 100 percent. Airlines are charging and, in some cases, raising fees for checked bags, Wi-Fi use, seat selection and even elements of frequent-flier programs. Of the 116 global airlines analyzed in the study, 53 are earning revenue from ancillary fees. And four of the six worst offenders are US-based airlines. Keep reading to see how these six airlines have earned a combined $12.9 billion in ancillary fees.
1. United – $5.3 Billion
After earning $38 on average off of each individual passenger, United Airlines has made the most profit from ancillary revenue. Collecting more than $5 billion, the airline made 14.4 percent of its total revenue of $37.1 billion off of ancillary fees. Current ancillary revenue was earned from check bag fees, extra leg room, economy plus and FareLock.
United plans to increase ancillary revenue this year, aiming for a 9 percent increase in ancillary revenue in 2013. The airline has stated it will enhancing its website to sell products more effectively, especially promoting Economy Plus. It can also expect a boost in revenue in the years to come from Wi-Fi sales. Also, United has invested in its Wi-Fi infrastructure: global satellite-based Wi-Fi will be live on 300 aircraft by the end this year and will be completed on all mainline aircraft in 2014.