Unexpected fees can add up quickly and cut into your travel budget. By being aware of these hidden costs, you can find ways to reduce or eliminate them. Before you book your flight, find out if there are any other fees in addition to the airfare. In some cases, you may be better off going with another airline with a higher fare, but lower fees.
Be on the Lookout for Unnecessary Fees:
Most airlines charge baggage fees for checked baggage and charge an additional amount for oversized or overweight bags (on Southwest Airlines your bags fly for free) . For information on baggage fees, check with your airline or online at IFlyBags, or SeatGuru.
- Checked baggage fees are per flight (double for round trip)
- You may be able to get a discounted rate when you pay in advance online
- Currently, some airlines charge around $20 for the first checked bag (62 linear inches and 50 lbs. max) and an additional amount for a second checked bag. For a family of four where each person has one checked bag, that can add up to $160 plus round trip!
- Some airlines do not charge a baggage fee to:
o Military personnel and family members
o Certain classes of frequent flyers
o First or Business Class travelers
- International flights may charge more (or less, if you are lucky) for checked baggage
- Overweight or Oversized Baggage: Bags that weigh more than 40 – 50 lbs. and are larger than 62 linear inches (measure length + width + height) will incur an added fee ranging from about $25 to $200 plus.
- Baggage Fees for multiple-carrier itineraries are determined by the first carrier
- Baggage fees listed with your airfare or online are for one way only–double the fee for round trip tickets.
Typical size limitations are 9” wide x 14” across x 22” high (45 linear inches), including the handle and wheels and 40 lbs. maximum weight. Check to see if the airline charges for a carry-on bag—some do.
- Be sure to adhere to the airline’s carry-on policies. You are restricted to the number of items you can carry aboard. Any extra or oversized bags may become checked baggage at the gate. You will then have to pay a baggage fee and will not have access to them during the flight.
Some airlines charge a fee if you purchase your tickets via phone or at the airport counter. These fees could be anywhere from $15 upwards to $45.
Priority Boarding Fees:
For an extra fee, some airlines will let you board the plane earlier than other passengers. The fee could be anywhere from about $9 on up.
Booking Your Own Seat or Requesting Premium Economy Seats:
- Some airlines may charge an additional fee for advance seat assignments
- Many airlines charge an added fee for wider seats and those with more leg room
Meals, Entertainment, Pillows, Blankets, Alcoholic Drinks:
These in-flight amenities are oftentimes not included in the cost of economy tickets. If you plan to purchase these items during the flight, check to see if the airline will accept either cash or credit cards.
Same Day Flight Changes:
Some airlines may allow you to request a Same Day Confirmed Flight Change up to a specified number of hours prior to your desired new flight. There may be a charge of $25 or more to get on an earlier flight. For example, if the airline stipulates that you need to make the change six hours prior to the new flight, if your original flight leaves at 7:00 p.m. and you want to change to the 1:00 p.m. flight, you have to request the flight no later than 7:00 a.m.
Ticket Change Fee:
You have a 24-hour window where you can cancel or change a non-refundable ticket that you have just booked and receive a full refund. Any changes or cancellations made after that time will incur a penalty fee (could be $75 to $175 or as much as $250 for international flights). Some airlines will allow you to change non-refundable tickets without charging a fee (Southwest Airlines).
If traveling with a pet that is under 20 lbs., they may be able to fly in the cabin for a fee (estimate around $50 to $125). The airline has a maximum number of pets that are allowed in the cabin, so it is important to notify the airlines as soon as possible. Pets over that size would fly in cargo for an added fee as well (estimate around $100 to $225).
Foreign Transaction Fee:
Many credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee if you book your ticket on an airline that is an overseas company. The fee could be as high as 3% of the price of the ticket.
- To avoid this fee, either use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees or book the flight through their partnering airline that is located in the U.S. (for example Lufthansa’s partner is United Airlines).
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