The Worst Airline Fees

Today, an airline ticket is often just the first of many charges that lie between you and your final destination. But which carriers have the worst fees? Major U.S. airlines are projected to collect a staggering $14.3 billion in fees this year and AirFareWatchDog.com keeps track of the biggest culprits.

“I think some airline fees are more egregious and less understandable than others. For example, the airlines recently increased their ticket change fee from $150 to $200,” says George Hobica, Founder & President of AirfareWatchDog.com.

Also see: Sneaky Retail Tricks

US Airways

US Airways is one such offender, according to AirFareWatchDog’s list. Their ticket change fee starts at $200 but can soar to $450 for international flights. And you’ll get hit with charges for oversized bags or sending your minor child to visit Grandma, alone.

US Airways Fees
Ticket Change Fee: $200 to $450
Same-Day Change Fee: $75 to $150
Non-Internet Reservation: $25
Unaccompanied Minor: $100
Pet Traveling in Cabin: $125
First Checked Bag: $25
Second Checked Bag: $35
Oversize Bag: $175

Also see: 3 Financial Fails

United Airlines

United is another legacy carrier AirFareWatchDog has called out. They’ve got the most expensive unaccompanied minor fee at $150. Plus, it could cost as much as $250 for your pet to join you in the cabin.

United Airlines Fees
Ticket Change Fee: $200
Same-Day Change Fee: $75
Non-Internet Reservation: $25
Unaccompanied Minor: $150
Pet Traveling in Cabin: $125 to $250
First Checked Bag: $25
Second Checked Bag: $35
Oversize Bag: $100

American Airlines

“Another fee that never existed before fairly recently and keeps on going up is making a reservation on the phone or at a ticket agent,” says Hobica.

American charges passengers $20 to book a ticket by phone, and making a reservation in person costs $35. Want Fido to fly in the cabin with you? That’ll run up to $175.

AA Fees
Ticket Change Fee: $200
Same-Day Change Fee: $75
Non-Internet Reservation: $25 to $35
Unaccompanied Minor: $100
Pet Traveling in Cabin: $125 to $175
First Checked Bag: $25
Second Checked Bag: $35
Oversize Bag: $175 to $300

Also see: Save $800 or More on Family Holiday Travel

Delta

If you’ve got lots of heavy holiday presents to get across the country this season, those bulky bags could cost you. Delta may charge up to $300 for oversize bags, and you’ll pay $90 for a suitcase over the 50-pound limit. That penalty soars to $175 for bags 71 to 100 pounds. And if you’re thinking of checking that extra weight in additional bags, a third and fourth will run you $125 and $200, respectively.

But there is one solution. “You’re going to save money by sending [your luggage] FedEx Ground four or five days ahead of your arrival to your hotel or your grandmother’s house. It’s going to cost less than paying the airline’s baggage fee,” says Hobica.

Delta Fees
Ticket Change Fee: $200 to $450
Same-Day Change Fee: $50
Non-Internet Reservation: $25 to $35
Unaccompanied Minor: $100
Pet Traveling in Cabin: $125
First Checked Bag: $25
Second Checked Bag: $35
Oversize Bag: $175 to $300

Spirit Airlines

Finally, Hobica says the lesser-known Spirit Airlines is growing fast, thanks in part to their pesky fees. “They probably have the most and worst fees of any airline. They actually charge not just for checked bags but carry-on bags unless it fits in the seat in front of you,” he says.

Spirit’s carry-on fee is meant to encourage checked baggage, since the airline contends the time it takes for passengers to load and unload overhead bins cuts into the time planes could be in the air. They also charge $10 for a boarding pass at the airport, so be sure to print your own at home.

Have a quick airline fee story to share? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #FinFit.

Search