How To Avoid Airline Fees

It’s no secret.

Airlines aren’t as friendly as they used to be; even to their bread-and-butter business travelers.  The amount and number of fees airlines are charging is getting out of control.  It’s time to fight back, or at least get educated.

Here’s some suggestions for how to avoid airline fees:

FLYING STANDBY –

It’s crazy.  A business traveler used to be able to change flights on the same airline on the same day on the same route.  Now you get charged $25 to $75.  Ask how full the flight is – if it’s not full, you should still be able to get on the waiting list for free rather than paying for the confirmed seat change.

TICKET CHANGE FEE –

Most airlines will charge you $75 to $150 to change your itinerary – that’s on top of your new fare.  Southwest, again, is the exception.  You do, however, get a grace period. If you make a mistake and realize within 24 hours, most airlines will allow you to make a change without a fee. But you have to be pretty savvy and act quickly.  This is something that most business travelers don’t know about.

CHECKED BAG FEE –

A charge for this is all but the norm these days, with most carriers charging between $15 and $25 for the first bag, and up to $35 for the second.  If you want to avoid, fly JetBlue or Southwest.  If the “full price” airlines start to lose business to the carriers that don’t charge this fee, they’ll figure it out and hopefully change policies.

WiFi –

If you want to get online on board, most carriers charge between $4.95 and $12.95 for the service (and some don’t offer it at all yet).  In the months you’re flying heavily, if you know you’ll use it pay for the package rather than per flight.  One and a half trips from coast to coast and you’ve got the full month covered.

BOOKING FEE –

This one is easily avoided if you can book your ticket online.  But if you want to book over the phone or in person, you’ll generally pay $15 to $25.  U.S. Airways seems to be the worst offender, charging up to $35 to book by phone and up to $45 to book in person.  Southwest, on the other hand, charges nothing.

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