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Land of the Fee: The Top 10 Airlines By Ancillary Revenue

Low-cost carriers took the lead, underscoring the à la carte model’s resilience and growing acceptance by consumers.
airline ancillary revenues
Frank Holmes is the CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors.
Frank Holmes is the CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors.

Last year, commercial air passenger traffic saw a surge of over 30%, while revenue soared by 50% compared to 2021, with Europe and Asia ex-China showing remarkable gains.

That’s according to IdeaWorks’ latest report on airline ancillary revenue in 2022,which shows that with an increase in traffic came a rise in sales for non-ticket services. Crowded airports and planes nudged passengers to pay more for comforts like extra legroom, preferred seating, early boarding, checked luggage, priority screening and more. Low-cost carriers (LLCs) took the lead, underscoring the resilience of the à la carte model and its growing acceptance among consumers.

Below are the top 10 airlines, in descending order, based on ancillary revenues they collected per passenger.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
Hong Kong ExpressHong Kong, China$52.52
10. Hong Kong Express

In the number 10 slot is Hong Kong’s sole LLC, Hong Kong Express. Fully owned by Cathay Pacific CPCAY , HK Express, as it’s commonly known, operated routes to 20 destinations in 2022, with cities like Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hanoi on the list. The carrier—which saw an unbelievable 3,800% increase in traffic between 2021 and 2022—pulled in $16.5 million from ancillary fees last year, averaging $52.52 per passenger, as reported by IdeaWorks.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
jetBlueLong Island, NY$53.24
9. jetBlue

JetBlue JBLU Vacation Products, which includes JetBlue Vacations and the Paisly booking platform, recorded earnings of roughly $100 million before taxes last year. In September 2022, jetBlue launched Troupe, designed for group vacation planning. The TrueBlue program also saw a 50% spike in membership in 2022, coupled with a 40% increase in its co-branded credit card accounts.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
UnitedChicago, IL$54.62
8. United

In 2022, United Airlines UAL generated the second most ancillary revenues of any carrier in the world following Delta Air Lines. Passengers shelled out nearly $8 billion on top of airfare, or $54.62 per passenger on average. Last year saw a rise in United Club memberships and lounge passes, and expansions in their lounge spaces in various airports.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
Air CanadaMontreal$54.65
7. Air Canada

As Canada’s largest airline, ACDVF includes Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Vacations and Aeroplan. In 2022, the airline revamped its Maple Leaf Lounge with a modern buffet and extended café offerings, and it also introduced new Priority Access Lanes. Air Canada raked in approximately $2 billion in non-ticket fees last year, averaging $54.65 per passenger.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
Sun CountryMinneapolis, MN$56.74
6. Sun Country

Sun Country SNCY pocketed $204 million in ancillary revenues last year, averaging $56.74 per passenger. The ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) also reported record-breaking revenue of $294 million in the first quarter of 2023.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
5. Frontier

Denver-based Frontier Airlines ULCC collected around $1.7 billion in 2022, or $66.24 per passenger on average. Frontier was one of only two carriers whose ancillary fees represented over 50% of total revenues in 2022, the other being Spirit Airlines. The airline introduced the Go Wild All-You-Can-Fly Pass, which charges one price for unlimited flights.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
SpiritMiramar, FL$67.61
4. Spirit

Each passenger aboard a Spirit SAVE flight paid an extra $67.61 on average in 2022, putting the low-cost carrier in the number one spot in terms of ancillary revenues as a percentage of total revenue. Despite discussions with Frontier, Spirit entered a merger agreement with JetBlue, which faced challenges when the Department of Transportation (DOT) sought legal action to prevent it in March 2023.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
AllegiantLas Vegas$67.74
3. Allegiant

Almost half of Allegiant’s ALGT total 2022 revenue came from ancillary fees, according to IdeaWorks. Its Allways Rewards co-branded credit card added 150,000 new users last year, culminating in over 410,000 cardholders by year’s end. The program generated $103 million in revenue, averaging $307 per account.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
Qantas AirwaysMascot, Australia$73.23
2. Qantas

Qantas Airways QABSY , Australia’s flagship carrier, collected $73.23 per passenger in ancillary fees. In 2022, Qantas Loyalty acquired a 51% stake in TripADeal, further expanding its reach in the travel industry. An additional 1 million members also joined its frequent flyer program during the same year.


CarrierHeadquartersAncillary $ Per Passenger
Jet2.comYeadon, U.K.$84.72

In the number one spot is, the United Kingdom’s third-largest carrier, flying from 11 U.K. airports to over 65 European destinations. During fiscal 2023, the airline rolled out new services, including VIBE, granting passengers special access to certain entertainment venues, and Express Transfers, which gives customers a preferred drop off on holiday arrival transfers.

(Want to keep going? Review the safest airlines of 2023 by watching our video here.)

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