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Beware these hidden airline fees in 2016

Posted at 9:29 AM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 09:29:33-05

With the holiday season now in your rear view mirror, many people are now planning their spring and summer getaways. But before you book a deep discount airline, take a moment to look over what you will really have to pay.

USA Today says all the new fees can easily add an extra $50 to $100 to that fare, per ticket. That can really add up if the whole family is flying.

Here are the biggest add-on fees that pretty much did not exist 10 years ago:

  • Carry-on bag fees:  This is a relatively new one, and it's how super discount airlines are making up for their lower ticket prices. Look for these at Frontier, Spirit, and Allegiant, among a few others.
  • Checked bag fees: $25 at most airlines except for Southwest, which still says "where bags fly free."  JetBlue finally added a $20 checked bag fee in summer 2015.
  • Snack and soft drink fees: at many airlines now, especially discounters.
  • Booking by phone fee: $15 at most airlines.
  • Seat selection fees:  To avoid sitting in the rear seats next to the bathroom door, be prepared to pay $3 - $15 extra on Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit.  Otherwise, they choose the seats for you. Comfort seats with extra legroom are now extra on all major carriers.
  • Changing an economy ticket fee: Now up to $200 at Delta, United, and American (up from $150 in 2013).
  • In-flight Wi-Fi fee: $5 to $10.  You will want it, and so will your kids. That can be another $40 per flight segment for your family for something that is free in every coffee shop and most hotels these days.

And from the doesn't that stink file,  the most hated of the new fees is that fee for your carry-on bag. Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit --the three deep discounters -- now charge between $10 and $75 for a bag in the overhead bin. If you can fit it under your seat, it is free, and that has created a cottage industry of tiny bags for air travelers.  But if it won't squeeze under the seat, you will probably say, "Doesn't that stink!"

The major airlines are not charging that fee yet, though you can bet it is giving them some ideas.

My advice?  Check for  fees, especially baggage fees, at the time you book your ticket, not when you arrive at the airport. You can usually minimize those fees if you pay them at booking time. (With some airlines, they are just $10 as opposed to $25 at check-in.)

That way, you don't waste your money.