Airline Fee Comparison: What to Know Before you Depart

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Posted on 05/20/2010

Lots of airlines are upping their fees and charging for things you never used to pay for. Just in time for summer vacation, here’s a look at airline fees. Now you can budget for those extra expenses.


First Checked Bag - Checked baggage used to be free...not anymore. We looked at the top airlines and found that only three—British Airways, JetBlue and Southwest—don’t charge for your first checked bag. AirTran charges $15 for the first checked bag and Frontier’s fee is $20. Most other airlines will tack on $25.


Second and Third Checked Bags - Checking two or three bags will typically cost you more. Expect to pay between $25-$60 for checking a second bag. Only one airline, Southwest, will take your second bag for free. Checking a third bag will cost as little as $50. British Airways charges the most, $140 for a US departure when you pay at the airport.


Snacks and Food - Free food is becoming rare on flights. You can still eat for free on AirTran, British Airways, Continental, JetBlue, and Southwest flights. Drinks are free on US Airways’ flights. Other airlines charge between $2-$8 for things like snacks, meals and sandwiches.


Pets - Want to take your furry family member with you on your summer vacation? Not all airlines offer this service, but you’ll pay the least to transport Spot when you fly on AirTran. Your pet can travel in the cabin for $69 each way. United and Continental charge the most-- $125 each way for pets to travel in the cabin.


Unaccompanied Minor - Traveling alone can be scary for a young passenger, which is why airlines offer a service for assisting unaccompanied minors. AirTran charges the least for this-- $39 each way on a non-stop flight. Other airlines charge between $50 and $100 per family.


Seat Assignment - Want to pick your seat? Some airlines will charge you extra for that. While it’s still fairly rare, AirTran charges $20 for an exit row, JetBlue adds $10 onto your bill for extra legroom and US Airways asks for $5 when selecting choice seats.


By Alison Storm


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