Septemeber 29, 2012

Septemeber 29, 2012
7 Most Ridiculous Airport and Flight Charges

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope your weekend is off to a safe and great start. It is another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me. The bear will be at the First Coast AIDS walk in Jacksonville, Florida in addition to other events this weekend.

Yesterday, I talked about airline passenger complaints and today I am going to blog about the ridiculous charges airline companies have come up with to charge people.

Remember when you bought a ticket, and that was it no additional airport or flight charges? Now, airlines have "unbundled" services that were once included in the ticket price, and the resulting hidden fees have made true comparison shopping nearly impossible.

According to a Consumer Travel Alliance poll, two-thirds of flyers said they were "broadsided" by unexpected charges. What can you do? Follow our tips on avoiding the most ridiculous charges.

1. Surcharges for Human Contact
Don't laugh, but American Airlines charges $25 if you buy your ticket over the phone and speak to a human being. Worse, if you buy your ticket in person, at their counter, the charge goes up to $35.

How to avoid: Buy your ticket online

2. Carry-on Charges
Spirit Airlines led the pack when it came to charging for carry-ons: $30 (at the time of online booking), $35 (at online check in) or $40-$45 per bag (counter check-in ticket purchase).

How to avoid: Get a carry-on that fits under your seat (dimensions vary, but for most planes, 19 inches wide x 17 deep x 9.5 or 10 tall will work). For now, under-seat carry-ons are still free on most airlines.

3. Checked-Baggage Fees
Most airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 to $40 for the second.

How to avoid: If you're traveling in the United States, ship your bags ahead via the U.S. Postal Service - it takes time and planning but can save money and frustration. You also have a paper trail and even insurance.

4. Priority-Boarding Fees
American Airlines and others now charge a fee ($9 and up) for priority boarding. This prompts the question what happens when everyone chooses priority boarding?

How to avoid: Choose an airline that allows boarding based on when you check in.

5. Fees for the Best Economy Seats
The highly sought-after bulkhead seats are now available for up to an additional $59 per flight.

How to avoid: Either choose an airline that doesn't have this fee, or hope for a flight that's not full.

6. Fees to Cash in Loyalty Reward Miles
We all thought that if we were "loyal" and flew exclusively on one airline, then our accumulated miles would give us a "free" trip. Wrong. Now you can pay up to $550 to "cash in" your miles.

How to avoid: Become loyal to airlines (Southwest Air, JetBlue) that don't do this.

7. Charges for Same-Day Earlier Flights
In the old days, if you got to the airport early, and the airline had an available seat on an earlier flight to your destination, the airline would put you on that flight for free. Today you pay $50 (or more) for this same privilege.

How to avoid: You can't. Stick to your confirmed flight.

Now you know the rest of the story. Hope you have a beary safe and great weekend.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab