As consumer demand for lower air fares combined with increased fuel costs continues, many airlines make up the costs of air travel through hidden fees and surcharges. However, it’s clear the air industry is more than merely compensating, as they took away more than 27 billion dollars in extra alone last year.
Still, hope exists for those looking to avoid those fees, as this list reveals the loop holes that will cut the costs of air travel and allow you to walk through the airport smirking at those poor souls who ended up paying all those extra fees.
Say No to Baggage Fees!
This is easier said than done as most companies, especially on domestic flights, now require extra baggage fees for checked bags. But why check a bag?
Depending on the airlines terms and conditions (which you should always read no matter how boring and tedious) you can bring a carry on that is just as heavy as your normal checked bag. Instead of spending the extra $25.00 on a checked bag, book a flight early enough to obtain a seat close enough to the front and you can store your bag in the roomier compartments overhead.
www.luggagelimits.com can help direct you to all the specifications on luggage for airlines, which is usually more helpful than trying to navigate the airlines sites on your own.
Another way to limit baggage fees is to check two bags instead of one. The cost for two bags is usually the same as for one bag that is only a couple of pounds over the weight limit. So if you know you have a lot of luggage and are going to over pack, pick two less stuffed suitcases over one ready to explode.
Southwest and JetBlue will actually waive the fees for the first two checked bags, but watch out as their unique seating options might not be convenient for your travel needs.
Lastly, check the baggage dimensions online. It may not seem like you will go over, and most of the time they don’t measure but some airlines will charge you extra if you cannot fit the carry-on bag under the seat.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be under the weight limit for your checked baggage, then some things you can do to cut the weight is to pack shoes, books and other heavy items in the outside pockets or on top so you can quickly pull them out to transfer into your carry on and avoid the extra fee.
Become a Member
Whether you earn air miles through a frequent flyer club or you choose to open a credit card through the airline company it all comes with its own set of perks.
Airline credit cards will generally waive the checked bag fee if you decide to use their card to pay for the flight, and a frequent flier sign up can eventually lead to waived fees if you fly often enough with one company.
And if they ask you to upgrade to first or business class it could work in your benefit if you’re willing to spend the money as you get the star treatment with the extra food and refundable fares.
Hectic Schedules Costing Big Bucks
After baggage fees, the most maligned fee would be that pesky cancellation/change fee. Making a sudden change or cancellation due to shifting schedules could end up costing you anywhere between a whopping $200 and $275. Sometimes that’s more than what you paid for the actual flight!
Depending on what airlines you prefer to fly, there are a couple that can cut you some slack with special options.
American Airlines: The “bundled fare” or Choice Plus and Essential Fares is an option that allows you to bundle the price of a checked bag and an insurance policy that allows you to avoid any change fees if you run into a calendar issue. Not to mention you get the perk of priority boarding, which isn’t a bad deal when you look at other airlines.
Southwest: This airline will help you out by allowing you to change any flight free of charge!
Alaska Airlines: Not as great of a deal as Southwest offers but still free flight changes IF you can make up your mind 60 days before your departure date.
Additionally don’t forget even non-refundable flights are refundable if they refuse to let you on the flight for any reason.
Pick Your Seat Beforehand
There are a few airlines out there that will charge you extra just to pick your seat in advance, something that comes complimentary with most other airlines. AirTran, Spirit, Allegiant and occasionally Frontier will all charge you, whereas JetBlue, Virgin, Delta and United among other domestic flights will not.
International flights usually do not have a problem with this as the chaos of free for all seating would just be unrealistic for such a long flight time.
Some airlines will try to catch you out by attempting to sell only premium seats online when you book the flight. Eventually a seat assignment will be given and if it’s not what you are looking for others may be willing to switch if you are looking to sit next to another person you’re traveling with.
There is usually a $15-20 fee for booking by phone instead of online, but there’s a way to avoid that. Calling up the airline, getting information on the best seats at the right price and then subsequently hanging up and booking online will save you the time of researching and allow you to avoid the fees associated with booking by phone.
Frequent Flyer Charges
Usually joining frequent flyer programs can save you money but sometimes you run into a few issues with booking flights too late.
If you try to book a flight with your air miles less than 21 days before the flight some airlines will charge you extra, usually around $75. Try looking into the following who do not charge: JetBlue, Delta, AirTran, Virgin and Southwest.
But don’t forget if your flight changes from nonstop to connecting, or has a significant time change, you can get it switched at the expense of the airline. So don’t forget to call or ask at the desk if there is any way possible they could do anything for you to save a couple bucks.
Rebecca Borchers works as a travel agent, servicing many individuals throughout the state of Florida. For businesses looking at travel packages as employee or sales incentives, she usually refers to Get Up & Go. You can find out more about her and additional works through Google+.