Airline Fees Rise to as High as $450

What could be worse than a very affordable trip plannedafter a careful review of cheaptravel options, including cheap fares, cheap airplane tickets, discounttravel deals, and cheap vacation packages, ending up costing far more than budgetedbecause of having to pay outrageous airline fees?

Delta Air Lines recently increased its change fee on selectinternational flights to $400 which is a $150 increase over its most expensiveticket change fee in 2011.

American Airlines today charges $450 for an overweight(weighing 71 to 100 pounds) checked bag on select international flights. The same bag only costs $400 on UnitedAirlines international flights and Hawaiian Airlines Asians flights.

Airline fees have become a major source of income for theindustry. Baggage fees alone for thelargest 15 U.S. airlines came in at $2.6 billion during the first nine monthsof 2013, with another $2.1 billion resulting from reservation change fees.

The industrys position, according to the Airlines forAmerica trade group, is that charging passengers fees for services they valueand are willing to pay for has enabled airlines to provide consumers theultimate choice and control over what they purchase.

If no fees had been charged last year, airlines would havelost money and, the trade group contends airlines would have offered fewerflights.

A recent two week USA Todays survey of airline fees foundthat some fees are difficult to find or are missing on airline websites, andterms of some others are vague or incomplete.

For example, United Airlines website says that its fee forPremier Access, which provides priority check-in and boarding privileges,starts at $9. On some flights the pricecan cost as much as $59.

Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air charge the highest singlechecked bag fee. Spirit customers mustpay $100 to check a bag at the airport gate. Allegiant charges $75 for a bag checked in at the airport for a Hawaiiflight.

Both airlines charge much lower fees for customers whocheck a bag in advance and online.

Almost all airlines charge more for reserving a ticket overthe phone for what used to be referred to as a free frequent flier awardticket.

Spirit and US Airways charge some of the most expensivefees for such bookings. Spirit charges$25 for a phone booking vs. nothing for an online booking, as well as anadditional charge of $100 for a reservation made within six days of departure.

Members of US Airways frequent flier program must pay $90to reserve a free award ticket via the phone for an internationalflight. Free tickets reserved online requirepayment of $50 for a Hawaii or international flight.

Elite frequent fliers and passengers with very expensivetickets sometimes get away with paying lower fees or even no fees services and amenitiesthat coach passengers must pay. Fees canbe different for passengers originating at foreign airports and can vary byflight or because of other factors.

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