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Watch Out For These Six Airline Fees

Hitting the wallets of customers seems to be contagious in corporate America right now. It’s not just the banks that are hitting customers with fees anymore; now major airlines are charging fees for everything. Airlines are charging fees for simple tasks like making a reservation and booking your seat. Even discount airline Ryanair is looking at charging its passengers to use the lavatory! If you are not careful, you could end up spending an extra $100 to $200 for your airline travel. You must be more informed and aware of how we travel on airline flights, or airline fees will eat you alive. Here are six fees that you should watch out for when traveling this summer:

Reservation Fees

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Do you remember when you could call an airline and make a reservation for free? Well, not anymore! You can still call a customer service representative and book your ticket but be prepared to fork over an additional $25 to $40 dollars per ticket. Even discount sites like Expedia charge a small fee (though they’ve currently waived this fee) for booking your ticket. Save yourself the trouble and shop for tickets directly from the airline’s website first. Often it’s a great idea to use a flight aggregator site to figure out which airlines offer the best deals, then go to those sites directly.

Checked Baggage Fees

Major airlines are charging passengers higher fees for every checked bag. Baggage fees can range from $15 to $45, and that’s just for one bag, one way! Additional bags will cost you anywhere from $25 to $35. You could end up spending $70 just to check two bags. To get around those pesky baggage fees, fly JetBlue or Southwest. These 2 airlines treat customers right by still allowing them to check baggage for free. JetBlue also gives some great snacks and free satellite cable TV!

Frequent Flyer Mile Fees

Airlines are now making you pay a fee to use your frequent flyer miles. That is utterly ridiculous! According to CNN Money, US Airways is charging customers between $25 and $50 to use their frequent flyer miles. Other airlines are charging up to $500 for customers to use frequent flyer miles for upgrades. Airlines are hitting customers with frequent flyer upgrade and booking fees to discourage them from using their accumulated miles. Isn’t the point of giving customers frequent flyer miles so that they can use them?

Seat Booking Fees

Do you want a window seat or want to sit in an exit row for the extra leg room? If so, be prepared to pay more cash. Some airlines are charging customers extra money to sit in the most popular seating areas. These fees could be as low as a few dollars to over $100. Your best bet is to check in early on the day of your flight and hope that these seats are still available for free. I know that Airtran recently charged me $6 for an average seat just to have it reserved in advance. It would have been $25 to reserve an exit row seat.

Beverage Fees

Soft drinks and peanuts were also given as a free gift to passenger. They were kind of like a thank you from the airline. Those days are over on many airlines. Airlines like US Airways now charge customers for beverages. The pretzels are still free, but you will have to pay $2 for a drink to down them with. However, there are still some airlines that offer free drink services.

Early Boarding Fees

You no longer have to fly first class to be eligible for early boarding. For a fee between $9 and $19, American, Southwest, and United Airlines are allowing passengers to purchase priority board status. Customers will be allowed to board right after special needs passengers and priority customers.

If booking with an extreme discount airline such as Allegiant or Spirit Air, you must watch your step with everything you do when booking a flight, or it could be an extra fee, but now the larger airlines are getting just as bad. When will airline customers start to push back and start demanding to be less nickel and dimed? What are your thoughts on all these crazy fees?

(Photo credit: lrargerich)

Mark Riddix
Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, "Your Financial Playbook."

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