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Traveling by air has become a lot more common than ever due to low ticket prices. Gone are the days when flying was absurdly expensive and was a luxury afforded by elite few. Still, buying a plane ticket is one of, if not the most, expensive parts of planning a trip.
Whether you’re planning to visit family or you just want to travel, you find a great deal on the ticket which meets your budget. However, as you make to your destination you realize that you blew your budget due to unexpected airline fees. Fortunately, there are hacks to get around these fees that airlines charge. So if you fly smart, you don’t have to worry about paying more than your budget.
1. Carry-on Baggage Fees
DON’T BE SHOCKED! There are certain airlines like Frontier that charge you for your carry-on items and charges ranges from $30-$100 per bag. Fortunately, many airlines don’t charge for a carry-on bag.
However, this is not the case with every airline, though, so before you choose a flight make sure to check the policy.
2. Check-in Baggage Fee
With most domestic flights, airline fees for check-in baggage are usually around $25 for the first bag and can go up to $100 for additional bags. Southwest, however, gives you two check-in baggage for free.
Checked baggage fees are often cheaper if you pay them ahead of time. That said, the best way to beat baggage fees is to consider booking a ticket with one checked bag included.
3. Oversize and Overweight fee
Whether you have paid for checked-in baggage or received it for free, you still need to comply with size and weight guidelines of the airline. These fees can run up to $200 per item depending on how much overweight your baggage is and how far and where you’re traveling. This is, in addition, to checked baggage fee.
However, there is a way to save money or even avoid the fee if you pack smart. How?
Pack only what’s necessary and not what you may need or wear as your “may need” can cost you up to $100 in extra fees.
Since every airline has regulations on what you’re allowed to carry on, but no hard and fast rules about what you’re allowed to have on yourself while boarding, get creative and take advantage of that.
If you need to take bulky clothes like jackets, boots, etc. with you, don’t pack them, wear them on travel days. This will also save you money on blanket-fee during long-haul flights (sad but many airlines charge).
You can stuff small items in pockets of your jacket, your shoes, etc. If you get creative enough with your layering, you might even skip carrying a bag altogether. Pack wisely and you’ll save yourself quite a some on these airline fees.
Make sure to confirm each airline’s oversized and overweight baggage policy in advance because it definitely pays to measure and weigh your bags.
4. Change and Cancellation Fee
This is by far the most expensive airline fees you will pay. It happens that something comes up and schedule changes or we get sick and it changes the entire itinerary. What happens next is you try to cancel the tickets or get the date changed but you meet with high cancellation and date change fees.
Delta or United can charge a whopping $200 for flight change (or cancellation) and up to $750 for international flights which seems outrageous. Other airlines are not that harsh, but this is unavoidable unless you know how to overcome the fee.
How to get around this fee?
The best way to get around this fee is to opt for airlines with least cancellation charges. Southwest is famous for their no-charge change or cancellation fees. If you are an elite member, waiver of change fees is offered by almost every airline. So becoming a part of their memberships can save you a lot of money and headaches as well.
Even if don’t qualify for anything above, you should not pay the cancellation fee before the required time as you never know when the schedule of an airline change or a flight gets canceled which entitles you to a full refund. And lastly, remember the “24- hour rule”.
24- Hour Rule”
There’s no fee to change or cancel a flight ticketed within 24 hours, so long as the reservation was made at least 7 days prior to departure.
5. Food and Drinks fee
There was a time when food and drinks were free for everyone, but airlines have started to charge for that now unless you fly business or first class. Though you still get some small snacks and drinks for free. I know that can’t satisfy most of us and food price in airplane or airport are highly inflated.
It’s best to pack your own food in carry-on baggage. Because let’s face it airline food isn’t food unless you are flying first class. You can carry all solid foods in your hand baggage, but liquid foods (such as sauces, pastes, soups, and stews) aren’t allowed past security.
6. Counter and Operator Usage Fee
Most airlines charge a fee if you book the ticket via phone booking or on airport desk. These charges range from $25 for the phone to $50 for in-person at the airport counter because they are doing research and booking for you.
However, if you do all the research and book online, you can avoid the fee. And in today’s world where everything is done online, why to book flight ticket offline? Thanks to various apps and websites, booking online has never been easy. In short, to avoid ticketing service charges, book and purchase your tickets online.
7. Seat Selection fee
Almost every airline will ask you money if you want to select seats of your choice while booking. And this fees can go up to $60 depending on the type of seat and route. However, there is a small trick which can help you select seats of your choice without paying anything. I never paid for seat selection fee, why should you?
Almost all airlines allow you to check-in online 24 hours before departure time by going on their website with your confirmation number. Now, if you check-in exactly 24 hours (not even 23 hours) before departure, you’ll be among the first to choose seats. This way you’re almost surely be seated on your choice of seat for free. It only takes 5 mins to check-in and you can save boarding pass as PDF and print it later.
8. Boarding Pass fee
I wanted to keep this list for 7, but since I have mentioned the boarding pass it makes sense to include it as well. Make sure you print your boarding pass at home unless you prefer to pay $10 for printing to boarding pass Gods at the airport. Yes, that’s $10 printing fee (usually low-cost carriers charge this).
The way airlines are charging fees, I won’t be surprised if they start to charge for using restrooms.
It is stressful when unexpected charges and fees pop-up, especially when you are trying to stick to the budget. When you know about them and are prepared to avoid them you can sit down and rest when others are falling into the trap of unknown charges.
You should also check these packing tips and trick which can help you enjoy your journey better.
Are there other airline fees out there that have taken you by surprise? Please share your thoughts in the comments.