US airlines made nearly $7 billion in bag fees last year despite mishandling nearly 3 million of them — see how carriers compare
US airlines earned a collective $6.8 billion in baggage revenue in 2022.
Luggage fees have been on the rise for years as airlines unbundle their fares.
American Airlines generated the most revenue but had the worst mishandled bag rate of any carrier.
After taking significant losses in 2020 and 2021, US airlines finally earned a $1.6 billion profit in 2022 according to stats from the US Department of Transporation — a sign the strong travel rebound is not slowing down.
However, the mere $1.6 billion is a far cry from the nearly $15 billion the industry earned in 2019 before the pandemic halted international travel and forced carriers to make drastic changes.
But surging post-COVID demand coupled with inflation and rising oil prices has airlines desperate to beef up their operations — and their revenue streams.
One strategy has been to raise baggage fees. Major US carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, have been unbundling their fares for years as a way to better compete with low-cost competitors.
Adding a carry-on or checked bag commonly costs $25 one-way pre-COVID — but that has risen as high as $35 in 2022.
The strategy has paid off, with airlines collectively earning about $6.8 billion in baggage revenue last year, according to DOT stats. This compares to $5.3 billion and $5.8 billion in 2021 and 2019, respectively.
This year's $1 billion increase from 2019 is despite carrying 72 million fewer passengers. However, carriers faltered when it came to handling the luggage, resulting in nearly 3 million bags lost, destroyed, or delayed across all airlines in 2022.
The DOT records the annual rate of mishandled baggage across 10 mainline and low-cost US airlines — take a look at how these numbers compare to luggage revenue in 2022.
10. Southwest Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $67 million
Bags Enplaned: 121,394,275
Mishandled Bags: 655,053
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.54
9. Hawaiian Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $87 million
Bags Enplaned: 6,192,423
Mishandled Bags: 23,435
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.38
8. Alaska Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $327 million
Bags Enplaned: 27,287,135
Mishandled Bags: 196,003
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.72
7. Allegiant Air
Baggage Revenue: $331 million
Bags Enplaned: 6,621,329
Mishandled Bags: 10,295
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.16
6. JetBlue Airways
Baggage Revenue: $625 million
Bags Enplaned: 15,350,805
Mishandled Bags: 104,132
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.68
5. Frontier Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $744 million
Bags Enplaned: 9,852,249
Mishandled Bags: 41,499
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.42
4. Spirit Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $933 million
Bags Enplaned: 12,976,167
Mishandled Bags: 64,831
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.50
3. Delta Air Lines
Baggage Revenue: $979 million
Bags Enplaned: 95,002,043
Mishandled Bags: 505,932
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.53
2. United Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $1.1 billion
Bags Enplaned: 70,768,183
Mishandled Bags: 467,084
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.66
1. American Airlines
Baggage Revenue: $1.4 billion
Bags Enplaned: 104,679,672
Mishandled Bags: 919,211
Rate Mishandled Per 100 Bags: 0.88
Breeze Airways, Eastern Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, and Silver Airways were not included in the DOT's 2022 mishandled baggage report, but collectively earned about $150 million in luggage fees.
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