How to Avoid Hidden Airline Fees

If you use online services to compare flight prices in stores, be careful with the buyer: many deals are actually burdened with hidden fees.

I am writing this from personal experience buying a ticket last night and observing a $ 79 to $ 156 hot air balloon flight after adding to the cost … of carrying the bags. But it is also the theme of the recent posts from Consumer Reports, which says that there are many hidden fees that can turn what seems like theft, robbery in the respiratory tract. Here’s what to look for.

Your luggage

As in life, carrying too much baggage on a flight can cost you. Some airlines charge fees not only for checked baggage, but also for personal belongings. Thought you were going to bring a book and a $ 12 bottle of water from Hudson News in this bag? Think again.

To save money, make sure you know your airline’s policy before booking your flight. They don’t always make things easier for you, as CR writes:

At Delta, you need to go to the “Travel with Us” drop-down menu and select the “Baggage” link to open the rules page. On the American and United websites, click Travel Information, then select Baggage for more information.

Knowledge is power. When booking your ticket, you will often be presented with options for how much baggage you wish to check in, or if you wish to upgrade your ticket, which sometimes includes baggage charges. A sudden baggage check at the airport is much more expensive than checking baggage when buying a ticket. Also, if the service staff think your bag is too large to be considered carry-on, you can get a large fee at the gate. Be clear about their rules, including sizing guidelines for all of these bag categories.

CR suggests buying your ticket with an airline credit card, which is worth looking out for if you fly a lot. Not only can you earn airline miles, you can also use the card to get free baggage check-in. This benefit depends on the card and the airline it is associated with. Read these terms again, baby!

Where are you sitting

Isn’t it strange how you literally buy a ticket for a seat on the plane, and then it turns out that you have to pay more money to choose a real seat? Sometimes the seats are marked as included on your ticket, but more often there is a range of prices depending on the desirability of the seat. But how desirable is this place? You can figure out if it’s worth paying more on a six-hour flight with SeatGuru, which has all sorts of information on everything from legroom to closeness to toilet facilities. You can even check by flight number.

According to CR, you could try asking the agent at the gate to upgrade your seat. Sometimes a better seat is available for free, sometimes for an additional fee, but you are already there. Just ask.

When I booked this surprisingly expensive ticket, it helped me to go back and buy seats and luggage together rather than adding them separately. Of course, this is exactly what Frontier Airlines probably wanted me to do, but in the end it turned out to be cheaper than trying to pick and choose. My seat was “free” and my luggage was discounted.

Wi-Fi and entertainment

These are the most frequent charges that appear when booking, but you should consider your flight plan as well. Maybe you want to take Tylenol PM, put on your sunglasses and check it out in time. Or maybe you have a very important project to work on and can’t live without Wi-Fi. How much will it cost to buy in half an hour increments from New York to Seattle? JetBlue offers pretty powerful Wi-Fi for free, but most airlines charge a fee. Again, CR recommends checking if you have a credit card that will grant you free access:

The American Express Business Platinum card, among its many benefits, gives cardholders 10 free “all day” passes to the Gogo Internet per year. However, the card comes with a hefty $ 450 annual fee. The US Bank Visa FlexPerks card offers 12 free Gogo internet passes every year. This card is available without an annual fee in the first year and a $ 49 annual fee thereafter.

But if you really don’t need it, download in-flight entertainment to your phone or tablet at home, or enjoy all that flight has to offer on its screens.

Other unexpected expenses

Did you know that sending an unaccompanied minor anywhere can cost up to $ 150? This is on American, Delta, and United flights, but Southwest and Virgin America charge between $ 25 and $ 50 depending on the number of flight stops. Be sure to check before booking your ticket to send your 11-year-old to Cancun because this fee could double the price.

Traveling with a pet can be incredibly expensive, especially if you want the pet to be safe. You can pay for them as checked baggage or carry-on baggage. Do a little research – it’s probably worth paying a little extra to make sure they get through the trip.


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