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Ways to Avoid Airline Fees

Actual airfare seems to only represent a small percentage of the fees many travelers pay to fly. Lower demand has prompted airlines to cut fares —recovering by implementing extra fees, cutting routes and scarcely altering frequent-flier programs.


Certain budget airlines such as Ryan-Air are beginning to charge extra for checking in live at the airport, instead of online.

Checking Luggage

According to Kiplinger, airlines are raising their prices once again on checking luggage. Paying such fees in advance online will not exempt you. Fees from US airlines like Delta and Continental are raising their check luggage fees both online and upon arrival at the airport. SmarterTravel suggests sticking with an airline like Southwest, that remains comparatively fee free. Southwest allows up to two bags checked, for free. Traveling light pays but if you must check luggage, be sure to weigh your luggage ahead of time. Going just one pound over the airline baggage limit will cost you.

Holiday Surcharge

Kiplinger also recommends flying Southwest as the airline does not have any holiday surcharges. “Several airlines also have extended the $10 holiday surcharge to nearly 100 dates and increased the charge to $20 on ten popular travel dates,” reports Stacy Rapacon in the February issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. If flying with a specific carrier is not an option, it is best to book flights on less-traveled days.

Booking Fees

Southwest is also one of the only air carriers that does not charge a booking fee at checkout. Avoid super budget airlines, as their airfare fee may be deceiving. Many of these airlines will stick this fee at the very end of checkout as you reach for your credit card to book the flight.

Picking a Seat

Opting out of choosing a seat next to your travel partner, window, aisle, or exit row is one of the simplest ways to avoid an airline fee.

In-Flight Purchases

Several air carriers have begun implementing more and more expensive in-flight amenities. The standard soda and peanuts no longer apply. Ask your flight attendant which amenities are still free of charge or consider grabbing your beverage or snacks just outside the gate at a stall. Although you will be unable to bring much liquid through security, you can bring your own food to avoid extra fees. Certain airlines now charge for the use of headsets for music/video entertainment. In this case, it’s best to bring your own headset on the flight. If you are making a purchase in-flight, check with your airline ahead of time as some only accept credit card.

Internet Access

Very few airports have free WIFI. Instead of paying for overpriced minutes of Internet access, use your own mobile device if you are on a data plan.

Future Plans

Every airline has some type of fee for changing a flight date. This fee may be included in the airfare if you choose the option, but many will charge a standard $150 fee (domestic) when your change is being made. The best way to avoid this fee is sticking to your original plans.

For more information on Airline Fees visit SmarterTravel’s Ultimate Guide