Airline Bag Fees Reach Another Record High with $1.5 Billion Charged in Second Quarter

Sept. 16, 2019
AAAE urges congress to update PFC program to unlock airport infrastructure investment.

 With airlines collecting more than $1.5 billion in baggage fees in the second quarter of 2019 – yet another record high – the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) called on Congress to update the arbitrary federal cap on local Passenger Facility Charges to spur investment in new terminals, gates, runways and other airport improvements that directly benefit airline passengers. 

“Congress needs to address today’s system that puts airline profits in first class but leaves passengers and their needs in the last rows of coach,” said AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli upon today’s release of the quarterly bag fee figures.

According to data released today by the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines collected more than $1.5 billion in baggage fees during the second quarter this year, breaking the previous record high that was set earlier this year. With more than $2.8 billion in bag fees collected through the first six months of the year, airlines are on pace to shatter the record-high $4.9 billion in baggage fees charged last year – a year in which many carriers increased their fees for the first checked bag by $5. Airlines collected another $740 million in reservation change and cancellation fees in the second quarter after raking in $2.7 billion in ticket fees last year.

Although airlines have increased their bag fees and continue to collect record amounts of ancillary fees from their customers, they continue to oppose adjusting the federal cap on local PFCs, a user fee that must be justified locally, imposed locally and used locally on FAA-approved projects that enhance local airport facilities. The federal cap on the local PFC has not been adjusted since 2000. Due to increased construction costs since then, a $4.50 PFC is worth just over $2 today, which hampers infrastructure development opportunities at airports around the country.