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Dealing with Airline Fees

Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

Dealing with Airline Fees

Given that most United States carriers charge for in-flight meals and to check a second (or even first) bag, ancillary fees aren’t a new concept for economy travelers. In fact, there are even more fees to consider, like an additional charge for checking bags at the airport (instead of prepaying online) and a fee for reserving an aisle seat; the five so-called legacy carriers have also introduced a $20 surcharge on flights during busy holiday-travel days. U.S. carriers collected a full $2.4 billion in fees in the first half of 2009 alone. United has even introduced a program that allows travelers to pay $249 annually to cover the cost of checking up to two bags on each flight—a move experts anticipate other airlines will follow.

T+L Tip: One silver lining: ancillary fees could actually drive down base fares, according to Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, a Wisconsin-based travel consultancy whose clients include several airlines. In the short term, though, elite and premium-class fliers, who are exempt from most fees, stand to benefit the most. So build up those miles.

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