While consumer outrage against airline bag fees in the U.S. gets the most attention, airline reservation cancellation and change fees are holding their own and are huge.
Consider the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics' latest numbers, covering the second quarter of 2011.
Cancellation and change fees rose 3.2% year over year to $612.3 million in the second quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile airline bag fees declined marginally to $886.7 million in the second quarter.
For both change fees and baggage fees, the BTS tracked 20 U.S. airlines in the second quarter of 2010 compared with 17 in the second of 2011. The missing airlines in 2011 were Colgan Air, Continental Micronesia and Horizon.
So, while baggage fees are considerably larger for the airlines, change fees are substantial and vital.
Here are BTS bag fee numbers through the 2011 second quarter:
Delta, American, US Airways, Continental and United were the top five in bag fees.
Notice that although Southwest allows two checked bags for free, it still took in $8.4 million dollars in bag fees for things like third and fourth bags at $50 each and ranked 14th.
And, JetBlue, which allows the first checked bag for free and charges $35 for the second and $75 for the third, ranked 10th and took in nearly $16 million in bag fees in the second quarter.
Here's the BTS tally of airline change fees through the second quarter of 2011:
The top five leaders in bag fees are among the top five leaders in change and cancellation fees, as well, although their ranking is somewhat different.