Flying Fees Add Up Fast

Suitcase1Think you have enough money saved to fly to your niece’s upcoming college graduation?   Add up the litany of airline fees and you may be forced to drive to the commencement ceremonies.

These days the cost of an airline seat is only part of what you will likely have to pay before you take flight.  Most carriers are making a killing by charging hefty baggage fees on domestic flights.  On average, you can expect to fork over $25 each way for your first checked bag and between $30 and $35 for the second.  Think about how deep you have to dig if you are flying as a family of inefficient packers.

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to avoid soaring luggage fees.  One option is to select an airline that doesn’t charge you for checked bags.  Unfortunately, Southwest and JetBlue are the only ones that don’t and if they don’t serve your destination city, you are out of luck.  Another option is to research airlines’ membership rewards and frequent flier programs that waive baggage fees.  Delta and Continental are the only airlines that waive some luggage fees if you book your flight using their credit cards.  However, the downside to using these branded credit cards is that most charge an annual fee.  Depending on how often you fly, the fee may or may not offset the bag charge.  As for joining a frequent flier program to bypass luggage fees, Continental’s OnePass Silver Elite program waives fees for two checked bags, but you have to fly at least 25,000 per year to qualify for membership.

If getting hit with baggage fees weren’t enough, some airlines are now charging passengers extra to sit in a decent seat… and I’m not referring to a cushy chair in the first class cabin.  Rather, some carriers are making travelers pay additional money to accommodate their seating requests in coach.  For example, American Airlines charges up to $10 extra to those looking to sit in the first few rows of the coach cabin.  Meanwhile, other airlines are asking passengers to hand over as much as $20 to sit in an exit row.

How do you deal with rising airline fees?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.