hidden fees

The hidden costs of airline travel have been getting steadily worse in recent years. The trouble started in 2008, when the economic recession caused airlines to start raising fees wherever they could in order to cope with surging fuel costs. But now that fuel costs have plummeted, major airlines are continuing to nickel-and-dime their passengers. They are making a lot of money doing this.

According to the Points Guy, the airlines with the most hidden fees are the small ones: Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit, who feels no shame slapping you with a surprise $100 fee for a carry-on bag at the gate. Of the larger airlines, United is the worst. Their hidden costs include a brutal $200 cancellation fee—per ticket.

“Change fees,” or fees charged to passengers who need to modify or cancel their itineraries, have been creeping to as high as $400 for international flights. And those prices are expected to go higher.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that baggage fees alone netted the airline industry $3.8 billion in 2015. And the kinds of fees you get slammed with are getting more and more inventive.

Now you also pay an extra baggage fee if you have a connecting flight. Not to mention the added fees for ordinary in-flight comforts like pillows, snacks, and legroom that isn’t child-sized.

But nothing tops the latest: Frontier Airlines’ so-called “family fee” charges you extra if you want to secure a seat next to your children.

When will this madness end? Here are a few recent news stories on the topic of hidden airline fees:


The Airline Fee to Sit With Your Family, Wall Street Journal

Which Airlines Have the Most Hidden Fees?, Points Guy

This Latest Mean-Spirited Airline Fee Is Really Going to Drive You Crazy, Inc.com

Airlines Are Swimming in Profits Thanks to Cheap Fuel, High Fees, Time.com

Most Outrageous, Unreal Airline Fees, ABC News

8 “Gotcha” Travel Fees and How to Avoid Them, USA Today

Enough With the Crazy Change Fees, The New Yorker

Are You Ready for This Disgraceful New Airline Fee?, Inc.com

3 New Reasons Those Maddening Airline Fees Are Here to Stay, Time.com

Airlines Collected Over $3.8 Billion in Baggage Fees in 2015, Points Guy

This Was the Worst Airline to Fly in 2015, Inc.com


Contact Blake Fleetwood at 212-201-1824

CookTravel.net has been operating since 1974, and as a leader in discounted business and first class travel, has frequently been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and USAToday.

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