Airlines are raking in enormous piles of cash from add-ons and fees. Last year in the US, the top six airlines made $12.4 billion in revenue for things other than the cost of a ticket, such as checking bags, re-booking penalties, WiFi connections, and selling frequent flier miles to credit card companies. Worldwide, that amount was $22.1 billion—a 66% spike in just two years, reports the New York Times.
The fee revenues are growing as airlines invent ways of becoming “more active retailers of travel,” says an airline consultant, while avoiding the 7.5% federal excise tax on tickets. The excess income can also mean the difference between a loss and profit for some airlines. Two prime examples of airlines in the US generating new cash streams are Spirit and Allegiant. Spirit charges passengers for the use of an overhead bin, and Allegiant is a top seller of airfare-and-hotel packages at a single price.