Top 3 Most and Least "Fee Crazy" Airlines

Airline fees are a controversial topic these days, so we look a look at the fees that airlines were charging and picked the top 3 most and least “fee crazy” airlines. Avoiding fees is hard, so why not try to avoid the airlines that charge them instead?


Most Fee Crazy Airlines:


  1. U.S. Airways: Not only does U.S. Airways have the distinction of being the only US airline to charge for water, they were also the first to discontinue free snacks. They’ve also decided to do away with in-flight entertainment. So what will you think about while you’re bored, hungry and thirsty? How about that $15 first checked bag fee, the $25 second checked bag fee, the $5-30$ fee to choose your favorite economy class seat, and the whopping $250 fee you paid to change your ticket. Oh, yeah, and remember when they made everyone crazy by charging a $5 fee to book a ticket… with their own website?

  2. United Airlines: United is following U.S. Airways lead with a combination of cutting amenities and introducing fees. They’ve done away with snacks and are selling “snack boxes.” Soon, United will be raising the prices for these items and economy class passengers will be expected to pay $9 for a sandwich. While you’re munching on that overpriced nonsense, you can add up the following fees: $15 to check your first bag, $25 for the second bag, and $125 for the third. Then there’s the $25 you paid to book your ticket over the phone, the $125 you paid for the privilege of traveling with your pet in the cabin, and of course, the $349 per year that you pay to be able to “stretch out and relax in comfort in seats located at the front of the Economy section,”..”if available.”
  3. (tie) Delta Airlines & American Airlines: American was the first airline to charge for the 1st checked bag, and Delta has managed to resist that fee — but Delta’s other fees are just so darn expensive that we had to call this one a tie. Ultimately, it costs more to check two bags with Delta than it does with U.S. Airways, United, or American. American currently charges $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second, and from $3-6 for snacks. Delta charges nothing for the first checked bag, but if you’re thinking of checking two bags, get ready to pay $50 for the second bag, and $125 for the third bag. Ouch! Delta’s snacks are complimentary, but they charge from $1-10 more for certain special items.


Least Fee Crazy Airlines:


  1. Southwest Airlines: Southwest is the only major airline that isn’t charging a fee to check two bags, and the third checked bag will only cost you $25. There is also no fee to change your ticket. Instead, you’ll get a flight credit that is good for one year. They don’t charge a fee to book over the phone or in person, and they don’t charge a fee for an unaccompanied minor.

  2. AirTran: AirTran has fees but they’re lower than a lot of its competitors. For example, the 2nd checked bag is $10 and the third is $50. The ticket change fee is $75, and unaccompanied minors will only cost you $39, as opposed to $100 on Delta, United, etc. You will pay $6 for an advanced seat assignment and $20 to sit in an exit row.
  3. JetBlue: JetBlue keeps threatening to go over to the dark side with new charges for things that used to be free (headsets $1, blankets and pillows $7) but they still have some of the more reasonable fees in the industry. There is no charge for the first checked back, and the second bag will cost you $20. Changing your ticket will cost you $100, and expect to pay from $10-20 more for their mini-business class “extra legroom” seats. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are plentiful and free, however. Love those blue potato chips.


If you’re looking for an easy way to compare fees, check out this excellent PDF from the folks at SmarterTravel.com, Airfarewatchdog.com, and SeatGuru.com.

(Photo: Jenna Belle )

Comments

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  1. RandomHookup says:

    Only $39 for an unaccompanied minor? I’ll take two, please.

  2. V for Vishnu says:

    Its really too bad that the “Least Fee Crazy Airlines” don’t fly outside North America. I need to fly to Australia later this year and I probably have to choose one of the “Mose Fee Crazy Airlines” to do so.

    • tedyc03 says:

      @V for Vishnu: Many fees don’t apply to international travel…yet.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @V for Vishnu: If you don’t mind a stop or two there are plenty of choices. It’s much better crossing the Pacific if you pick an Asian carrier like Singapore or ANA.

    • Wormfather is Wormfather says:

      @V for Vishnu: I dont know if British Airways flies there but if they do, dont, BA is like the BoA of the Skies.

    • satoru says:

      @V for Vishnu: If you’re flying to Asia Pacific region, your best bet is to fly either Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, JAL or ANA. The eye candy is much nicer since they have strict height, weight and age restrictions for their staff for ‘safety reasons’ aka ‘we only want hot chicks on our planes’. To compensate I’ve heard that becoming a JAL stewardess is very very very hard since the competition is pretty fierce. It’s not Hooter’s air after all :)

      Also remember these check bag fees only apply to domestic flights. As far as I know, for international flights you do not have to pay for your 1st and 2nd checked luggage. Beyond those you have to pay the normal 3rd checked luggage or any overweight luggage as well.

      • @satoru: Here here, and bravo. NEVER take UAL if there is another ‘Star Alliance’ carrier available. Not only will you have UAL trolls in the skies, but ticketing troubles on the ground.

        So I recommend ANA [All Nippon Airways aka ‘Zen Niku’] for flying in Asia, and Luftansa for flying in Europe. Both sets of stewardesses are very ‘genki’ [energetic, easy on the eyes]. Or you can go with the drab American ‘alternative’. But I wouldn’t.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @V for Vishnu: Or choose a non-US carrier.

  3. Tonguetied says:

    Yeah for Southwest for holding the line. I flew with them last month and it was full flights and so cramped but compared to the lousy attitude and fees from other airlines I’ll take em any day of the week.

  4. sleze69 says:

    One thing to note is that if you are a frequent flyer with US Airways, a lot of those fees go away. As much as US Airways sucks, the free upgrade to first class on domestic flights (when seats are available) is probably the best perk in the airline industry.

  5. zigziggityzoo says:

    Southwest is always a full airplane, but if you check in the day before you always board first, so you can at least choose your favorite seat.

    I love SWA, their employees always have the best attitude, and usually have decent snacks, too.

  6. Tallanvor says:

    United belongs higher on the list now that they’re going to start charging for food on flights to Europe.

    Seriously, though, DON’T FLY WITH THEM.

  7. Underpants Gnome says:

    Common theme about the 3 least fee-crazy: They don’t fly out of O’hare. That makes me a sad gnome.

    (technically JetBlue does, but only to Long Beach, JFK, and Boston)

  8. And this is why I am driving from Chicago to MA this year for Christmas. I would rather spend 14+ hours in a car with a large dog and a baby than fly with any airline trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

    • Aisley says:

      @Spaceman Bill Leah has the Crazy Eyes:

      That’s a very good one, Bill. I just refuse to fly or drive to visit my relatives. When your family has more drama than TNT Channel, these fees become a blessing! They give me the perfect excuse, eer reason, I meant reason, not to travel. There’s no hurry for me to be in the same city with a witch, two morons, an imbecil and a drunk!

  9. yikz says:

    I’m elite on Delta. I never pay a fee for anything. If you fly enough to have status, you won’t run into many of these fees. The occasional traveller is not concerned with service, they are only concerned with low-price airfare. As such, the airlines have made it clear that they will compete on price, and then charge extra for convenience.
    For the occasional traveller, buy a bottle of water on the concourse for $3.00 instead of on the airplane. Bring your own blanket and pillow and save $7.00. Pack light. Do you really need to check 2 pieces of luggage to go to on that trip?

    • winnabago says:

      @yikz: You are elite on delta, which is something that 99% of us will never experience. The consumerist is for the general flying public to understand reasonably well what they need to know when dealing with big corporations.

      “Fly more so you can get status” isn’t a real strategy for dealing with airlines.

      Everyone in the back of the plane is paying dearly for your free drinks and blankets, and probably for your free checked baggage, as proven by the failure of two recent “business class only” airlines. Coach class is necessary to break even on a flight. Also, ask yourself if you are elite because you fly a lot on your own, or because you are lucky to have a job that pays for your frequent expensive flights. It’s not like you spent your own money to get to where you are and need to look down on the rest of us.

    • TheRedDuke says:

      @yikz: Well, if you’re not elite on Delta, and you DO need to take two bags, do it. It’s cheaper than one overweight one. Which will run you $90. Yes, I just paid $90. On TOP of the $50 for the second bag. (Yes, I had to. It was a lot of equipment.)

      Hypothetical:
      I weigh 110 lbs. A person my same height and double my weight pays the same amount for the ticket, but I pay more because I have an extra bag? And my bag and I still don’t weigh as much as the fatty taking up half my seat? Fug off.

  10. APFPilot says:

    Funny, the least fee crazy airlines are the traditional Low Cost Carriers

  11. MisterE87 says:

    Southwest doesn’t fly into Philadelphia :( Shame on them for having a catch-phrase like “You are now free to move about the country.”

    • snowburnt says:

      @MisterE87: why would anyone want to go to Philadelphia? Getting out of Philadelphia I understand…

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        @snowburnt: The beer. Philly is rated as one of the best beer cities in the US. It’s tied for first with, IIRC, Portland. Portland has more microbreweries, but Philly has far and away the largest variety of imports (it serves more types of Belgian beers than Amsterdam does). It even has a whole week+ dedicated to beer, with at least three different beer festivals.

    • Jevia says:

      @MisterE87: uh, yeah they do. SW has been flying out of Philly for a few years now. Maybe not to every other city, but quite a few.

  12. arkitect75 says:

    I booked a one-way flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York on Spirit the other week, b/c it was the cheapest. As I went through the process, i was laughing how each page was asking me if I wanted some service, etc. and the charge for it.

    Want to check a bag: 1st bag- Online=$15, Airport=$30
    Want to choose your seat: Window=$10, Middle/Aisle=$5, Exit row=$15

    I was waiting for the “want a seatbeat” page to load, but I never saw it.

  13. VA_White says:

    The catch with Southwest’s free unaccompanied minor thing is that the flight must be free from plane changes. If the flight isn’t nonstop or one-stop, no plane change, then Southwest will not take the unaccompanied minor at all.

  14. CAK says:

    @ underpants gnome: southwest flies out of midway…unless you’re in the NW suburbs, it’s always worth the extra time to get down to MDW

    @ MisterE87: southwest flies directly to PHL from MDW…and according to their route map, they fly to PHL from plenty of other places as well

    (can you tell I prefer to southwest to every other carrier)

  15. dancing_bear says:

    I booked a flight on United, and cancelled. They did not refund the fee. I called them, they told me that they hold the charge until my next flight. When I took that next flight, they charged me $100 for the privledge of not refunding my money in the first place.

    United has treated me like crap for years, this is what I get for loyalty. I am going to give some other airline a chance to crap on me for a few years before I even consider going back.

  16. mazda3jdm says:

    soon they will make you get on a scale and weigh you by the pound and calcualte yout ticket price.

  17. sir_eccles says:

    Question – What would happen if people flew these airlines but didn’t avail themselves of these fee paying services?

  18. Leah says:

    damn. just booked a cheap flight on united for a friend’s wedding :-( good thing I won’t need to check a bag. I’ll make sure to bring my own food with me, since I’ll be flying over dinner time. and will definitely be bringing an empty nalgene to fill up once I clear security.

  19. roshambo says:

    Most of the Airlines that seem to only fly within the US like Southwest and Jet Blue have the lowest fees if any at all and seem to make a profit year after year. They have low fees and on top of that usually have the cheapest fares.

    The major airlines that fly all around the world that are constantly losing money and charging passengers for everything under the sun just can’t seem to make ends meet. It would seem to me that their general business model is broken. If charing someone who checks two bags gets you anywere from 40 to 50 extra dollars doesn’t help you out enough, is not giving passengers a soda that they probably pay 10 cents for really going to make any sort of difference? It seems to me the problem is with flying over seas. Maybe they just need to charge what a flight over seas costs instead. I don’t know, something just doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @roshambo: But then why don’t other airlines who fly to the US from overseas have the same issues US airlines do? For example, JAL certainly isn’t nickel-and-diming their flyers (not to mention their Economy Plus product is loads above United’s).

      • Jevia says:

        @jamar0303: Because many foreign airlines get funding from their governments, so they don’t have to add these nickle and diming fees. The government funding also helps with ticket prices, so the foreign airlines can raise their ticket prices, but still keep them lower than most American airlines.

  20. islandman21638 says:

    I have had the great fortune to fly Emirates Airlines to the UAE several times one thing I will say is that there worst flight is better than the best flights that the US has to offer in first class. This airline knows how the treat there customers.Instead of hitting us for every penny just put it into the price, at least this way the customer won’t have a bad taste and feel that we have been F&^Ked. When asked by the flight attendent from Emirates how I liked the business class section “I asked if I could move in” it was that good.

    Just wait till after Nov!

  21. adamsummers says:

    Southwest is indeed awesome. I’ve rarely had a bad experience with them. In addition to what has been mentioned, I was also pleased to find laptop / phone charging stations by all their gates at O’Hare.

  22. PeteyNice says:

    I do not understand how Southwest survives when they do not fly where people actually live (aka NYC – Islip does not count). They don’t even fly to Atlanta where planes live so I am just very confused by their whole business model.

    • hmk says:

      @PeteyNice: That is unfortunate about them not being in any real NYC airport, because I’d definitely use them more. But hey, here in Chicago, great!! I can take Southwest to a lot of places I fly. They’re in a major hub by being in Chicago, albeit Midway and not O’Hare. I love Southwest and I use them every chance I can when I need to fly.

    • sleze69 says:

      @PeteyNice: They locked in low fuel contract prices years ago and, as such, are immune to the current increase in fuel prices that are plagueing the rest of the industry. They made a gamble and won.

      Brilliant business decision.

    • mythago says:

      @yikz: these airlines are going to piss off their business customers just as much. Being able to change my ticket without huge fees is indispensable to me as a business traveler. So is being able to make my connection on time and not to have cranky, underpaid flight attendants on my airplane. I don’t want to have to put up with craptastic service for 39,491 flights before I get to “Elite” status and they decide I paid enough to be treated like a human being.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @PeteyNice:
      It’s easier for them to keep a schedule, it is probably cheaper to keep facilities there, and in the cases of a few airports, it is definitely cheaper to take off and land from there.

      People DO live outside major cities. I mean, if you’re from NYC, you may find it hard to believe, but people actually DO live elsewhere.

      Oh, and going to a minor airport anywhere near a major city gives them almost as much access to the outlying population of that metro area as does going to the main airport in that area.

    • sburnap42 says:

      @PeteyNice: Well, see they have lots of flights to places like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas you know…places in the *south west* United States.

      I hear a few people live there.

      I always fly South West. The few times I haven’t domestically in the last few years, the experience has sucked. I literally flew thirty flights in a year on SouthWest with no incidents. Flying Delta once, I had screw ups and pain on both the original flight and the return flight.

      • PeteyNice says:

        @sburnap42: Well sure, but I don’t see how an airline can get so big flying LA to SF, Vegas, Portland and Seattle. As for “Phoenix” and “Dallas”. I don’t think anyone lives there. They sound like places you fly over, not live.

        • Mauvaise says:

          @PeteyNice:

          I can’t speak for Dallas, but apparently you aren’t aware that Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the US (in terms of population) right after NY, LA, Chicago, and Houston. I’d say quite a few people live here (myself included).

          And Southwest flies to quite a few cities besides “LA to SF, Vegas, Portland and Seattle”. They fly to well over half of the states in the US, sometimes with multiple cities in each state.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @PeteyNice: I take it the residents of Long Island are all robots, slaves and lower primates, then?
      @Mr_Mantastic: That IS lame. The credit should at least apply to the fees as well.

      • PeteyNice says:

        @bwcbwc: Long Island isn’t NYC, that is why it isn’t called NYC.

        @love23evol: Midway airport is not particularly big since it does not have any international flights. Scottsdale? No, can’t say I have is that where they make toilet paper?

  23. Ubik2501 says:

    When I can fly Southwest, I do. They simply have had the best service and reliability of any airline I’ve taken, and they tend to be competitive price-wise too.

    On the other side of the coin, I’ll never fly US Airways again after an unexplained delay caused me and others to miss a connecting flight. They would have left us stranded in the Philadelphia airport overnight if I hadn’t chased down one of their elusive reps and shamed them into comping us hotel rooms. They simply have no concept of customer service whatsoever.

  24. iMike says:

    Southwest FTW. I’ve been top level elite on a couple of US carriers over the years and have largely abandoned them in favor of Southwest because they’re not such a PITA to fly, and because the perks of elite status have been diluted to nearly nothing.

    And on Southwest, if you buy Business First fares, you’ll even get a decent seat 90+% of the time.

  25. nweaver says:

    PeteyNice: Except for New York, they fly to all the major urban centers, just not necessarily the major urban airports.

    EG, in the bay area, lots of flights out of oakland and San Jose, none out of SFO.

    Out of Chicago, they fly out of midway, not Ohare.

    In the DC area, a few flights out of Dullis, none out of National, and a Metric Crapload out of BWI, and frankly, to DC proper, BWI is hardly worse than Dullis because there are commuter trains from BWI to downtown DC.

    New York is really the only area that southwest doesn’t serve well.

  26. dragonfire81 says:

    This post should really be titled: “3 airlines you never want to fly on and 3 you probably do”

  27. dragonfire81 says:

    Thank the lord I don’t fly much.

    I feel REALLY bad for those who do, having to put up with so much of this crap.

  28. Jenng says:

    @PeteyNice – Part of the reason SW survives is because they don’t pay the ginormous fees that those airports want to charge to let them fly out of their gates. Also they hedge their fuel and have done so through 2012 while other carriers gave SW the finger when they asked them to hedge costs with them the other airlines said they would just take it out of salaries (not having any clue fuel costs would go where they have gone. They also maintain 1 type of aircraft so their maintenance and mechanics only have to be schooled in maintaining 1 type of plane vs. the 9+ other types that other airlines have. Also SW is extremely loyal to their employees (my husband works for them) and that’s what drives great customer service. I’m not 100% sure but I think at the end of next year they will also be offering flights to Mexico!

  29. iMike says:

    One more point: the biggest PITA that I’ve found in flying Southwest is the Wright Amendment: the airline can fly from Love Field in Dallas only within Texas and to contiguous states.

    • sarahandthecity says:

      @iMike: i think they got rid of the wright amendment… last i checked southwest is slowly expanding their schedule out of Dallas, to Kansas City and St Louis at least.

  30. karmaghost says:

    What does “change your ticket” mean, exactly? There was a death in the family during a recent trip I took and when I called Southwest to see if I could switch to an earlier flight, they said that it would cost $75 per ticket to change. And that was the bereavement cost, she said it would be higher otherwise.

  31. ajlei says:

    I may have missed it but I haven’t heard much mention of Alaska Airlines. I guess they’re primarily a west coast airline but they have been wonderful, and I pretty much exclusively use them.

    Plus, during my last flight on Alaska, I was taking a shuttle plane from Seattle to Portland and they served beer and wine (complimentary) in-flight!

    Also, they still don’t charge for a first checked bag, and I’ve never had any significant delays (or any canceled flights) with them.

  32. cametall says:

    Once Southwest’s fixed fuel price agreement runs out they’ll be up there in the crazy fees too I’ll bet.

    • Parapraxis says:

      @cametall:

      I don’t think so. All the massive profit they’re pulling in right now is probably going into hedging their bets further down the road so fuel prices won’t be so painful.

  33. dither says:

    AirTran may have lower fees, but they have some of the worst customer service I have ever had to interact with. And to make up for their lower fees they just charge you more of them. I had to take two bags on my most recent trip, one of them being a duffel bag which fits within the regulation size for baggage.. atleast when it is filled and not purposely flattened out. When I was checking in my bags the AirTran guy behind the counter decided that the bag looked like it might be over sized.. so he proceeded to push down on my bag (which only had clothes in it thankfully) and smooshed it out into a much more flattened state.. and this point he proceeded to measure it from flattened end to flattened end.. then he smooshed it around some more to make it wider.. then measure the width and told me that it was over sized.. I asked to speak to a manager.. I told him what happened.. then he did the EXACT same thing and told me that it was over sized.. I have flown with that bag for about a decade and never have I been charged an over sized bag fee for it.

    The time I attempted to take AirTran before that, i was not allowed to check my baggage because even though I arrived an hour and a half before my flight, the woman at the check-in counter I was standing at could not figure out how to use the computer and kept me waiting for 45 minutes.. at which point her manager came by and told me that since my bags had not been checked 45 minutes prior to my flight that I would not be allowed to check them… at which point she offered me a refund.. minus fees of course.

    Lower fees.. sure.. but you get what you pay for.

  34. Burgandy says:

    I do <3 Southwest. I have to travel for business in November (booo) and southwest isn’t on the “prefered partner” list (more booooo) so I am going to have to use a crappy airline that is going to run late and generally be incompetent. The latest my flight has ever been on a southwest flight is 15 minutes. I can live with that, the people who were picking us up were even later than that, they did me a favor.

  35. ragold says:

    What about Alaska? Any new fees? It’s annoying how it’s never included on these lists; it’s the major carrier for the Northwest and a lot of California.

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    If the airlines converted one – just ONE – of their lavatories into a disco-balled, trance-music’ed, leather reclining seated Mile High Club Room, with a $100 booking fee, just think of the possibilities!
    Just watch your step when passing by the door, kiddies: slippery when wet!!

  37. leastcmplicated says:

    With all this bad talk about airlines I was really nervous to fly to visit family over Thanksgiving. Well I just bought 2 tickets and a lap infant (free) from Atlanta to LaGuardia for Airtran and it cost $600!! Amazing price! and on their website they say that have free in flight XM and complimentary headphones (the jacks are also compatible with your headphones) if you don’t have any. And it gives a list of free snacks offered. So hopefully I’ll have a good experience :) Still nervous though!

  38. cmac says:

    I’ll add Allegiant Air to the mix. They’re very, very small with a limited flight schedule, but they’re great. Everything is an upcharge, but the tix are way cheap to begin with. If you’re flying to Florida or Vegas, they’re worth checking.

  39. freelunch says:

    My favorite thing about Southwest Airlines — in years of flying, they are one of the few airlines that has not e-mailed me to let me know they canceled my flight and put me on the ‘closest’ alternative… American seems to be really bad about that…

    and for all the times I have seen American cancelling flights due to weather (and their staff going home)… Southwest staff end up working late at the airport to wait out the weather and get as many planes out as they can!

    For personal travel I continue to choose Southwest over AA, despite my flyer status with them. Besides – how can you help but love a company that gives you free drinks with each flight award?

  40. BoomhauerTX says:

    The “Fees” are the method to lower the base airfare price to remain on the first or top of internet search criteria. Soon all the “fees” will be more than the base airfare, taxes, fuel surcharge, etc.

  41. speaky2k says:

    I am actually surprised to see Delta on the worst list. I have flown them many times and thought they were always decent (ie good for a US based carrier). I often fly for business and have to take a small case of tools which I can’t carry on, but can fit inside a small suitcase, so I have to check a single bag. After my last flight on USAir, I will not fly them again due to all the new fee’s, so it’s Delta and Southwest from now on for me. I just hope when the Delta/Northwest merger occurs, they keep the free 1st bag.

  42. lordargent says:

    JetBlue: JetBlue keeps threatening to go over to the dark side with new charges for things that used to be free (headsets $1, blankets and pillows $7)

    Ahh, but you get to keep the headsets and blankets.

    Also, IIRC, their media system has a standard headphone jack, so you could just take your own.

  43. DJFelix says:

    I wish the airlines would raise their rates overall, say 50-100%. Flying on an airplane used to be an exclusive club. Now any Tom, Dick, or Jane can fly, and it’s the casual fliers that screw up the whole system. I fly every week, and I know what I’m doing. I know how to check-in quickly, zip through security, and never check more than one bag, if any. I’m a diabetic that wears an insulin pump, carries insulin/snacks/etc, and I still know how to get through security without a hassle. Why is it so hard for everyone else to figure it out?

    It’s time to raise the rates and make it harder to fly again. The airports are far too polluted with ignorant travelers who don’t know what the hell they are doing.

    American Airlines has treated me better than any airline I have ever flown (ask me, I’ve flown at least 2 dozen). Just last week I had the incredible mis-fortune of letting a co-worker rebook a return flight from Calgary on United. The plane left late, the staff was incredible rude, the planes were dirty, and we ended up home several hours after the American flight got in. It was a good reminder of why I always fly American.

    I used to fly Southwest, but I got tired of getting into a fist-fight every time I wanted to get on the plane. The new cattle call isn’t much better than the old system, due to the fact that people are completely ignorant, and will still fight you to get on the plane. No thanks.

  44. k3n85 says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Midwest Airlines. I’ve noted them the lowest on every flight I book out east. There fees are considerably less then everyone else and you get a free cookie. :) C’mon

  45. Meretrice says:

    I hate to bust the bubble about AirTran, but their fee for an unaccompanied minor is *not* $39. They raised their fee to $100 sometime in June. I know their website says otherwise, but we booked a flight for my stepdaughter in June and that was the charge.

  46. Seanross says:

    Funny, I’ve never traveled with the top 3, always flew with Jetblue, Southwest or Airtran…

  47. regenerator says:

    Agreed with previous commenters regarding Alaska and Horizon, their affiliate. They have great rates and wonderful service. A few months ago my husband and I had a flight booked from Seattle to San Francisco, and to save money I booked the flight that made a stop in Portland. Turns out it was slightly overbooked so they had to bump us to a direct flight that actually got us to San Francisco an hour earlier, which was great. But because they had to “inconvenience” us (gate agent’s term; I was thrilled), we were given two vouchers for free tickets anywhere Alaska flies. And yes, they still give free food, and offer free Jones Soda and microbrews.

  48. ironchef says:

    You guys forgot Virgin America.

    1) They don’t charge for bags over 50lbs. Over 70lbs, there’s a small surcharge.
    2) Free pillows & blankets
    3) Rebooking a missed flight sometimes doesn’t incur an extra fee.

  49. theblackdog says:

    What I have noticed is Southwest is doing what Consumerist readers have asked for all along, they just raise their prices rather than tack on BS fees.

    I’ve watched a flight from Baltimore to Phoenix go from $99 each way during a sale to about $149 during a sale over the last few years, and I can accept that it’s gone up and budget for it.

  50. Chad Sexington says:

    I’d happily pay up to $20 for an exit row seat every time I fly.

    My wife and I flew United to and from Colorado within the last ten days, and we paid $90 each for round-trip “Economy Plus” seating. It wasn’t bad, but for $45 per flight I’d really appreciate an exit row seat.

  51. ochobit says:

    I love TAM <3

    Flying to Brazil/Argentina is a pleasure!

  52. autumnmist says:

    Allegiant Air charges for water too and for the first checked bag, but they do have nice seat/leg room.

  53. Mr_Mantastic says:

    I purchased a US Airlines roundtrip ticket back in February for a March flight from MEM to LAX. I ended up moving in that short time so I had to cancel my ticket and was given full credit for it ($268). A few weeks ago I decided to use my credit because it expires after a year (flying to my wedding). My new ticket costs $195. Easy, right? I should still have $73 dollars left. No. US Airlines charges two fees, one of $100 and one of $30 to rebook. They tell me my ticket would cost $130. Well, what about my extra $73? US Airlines eats it up. The credit is a one time use only, and you can’t apply the extra credit to pay for “fees.” Oh really? That’s crap. I argued, but the best they could do is drop the $30 dollar charge. So, in essence, a one way ticket from JAX to MEM now ultimately costs me $368. I am NEVER going to fly US Airlines again. To top it off, I’m going to be providing excellent service to US Airlines for the rest of my working life because I’m an air traffic controller.

  54. shanerz says:

    Southwest definitely has become a niche market operator. Aside from their convenience, they’re generally all-around happy individuals. This is what happens when you have excellent corporate culture. Any company would do well to emulate them.

  55. kdollarsign says:

    @parapraxis — massive profit? ?? ??? ?????

    I don’t see the big deal about the fees. They’re a smart way to raise revenue without raising the price of the flight itself. The fees have turned out to be a public relations nightmare and media feeding frenzy because the news stations can’t bear to report anything intelligent. i’m just annoyed at this whole situation. these companies are tanking and learning why would produce a discussion that’s far more interesting than this.

  56. love23evol says:

    @PeteyNice I fly in an out of Phoenix three times a month, and it’s more crowded than Midway airport in Chicago. ASU has a 60% out of state student population, and almost everyone I know flies Southwest when they come back to school. Also, ever heard of Scottsdale? Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the country.

  57. hc130radio says:

    your welcome for me sending this PDF to you this weekend Consumerist!

  58. kindall says:

    US Airways has a feature that keeps me flying on them no matter how badly they treat me: a direct flight from Seattle to Charlotte. At Christmastime when I’m flying to see the folks, that is a huge win. So I generally fly them elsewhere as well to keep all my miles on one airline. (Exception is when I fly on the west coast, where I use Alaska.)

    Also, US Airways used to have affinity credit cards through two different banks, and if you signed up for both you got 40,000 bonus miles for the price of one card’s annual fee, or about $95. That was a killer deal. Maybe that’s why they have to charge for luggage now.

  59. Aaron Eaton says:

    The reason southwest remains the best is because they don’t use the hub-and-spoke method that most other airlines use.

    That method is great for shipping cargo and mail, not so great for moving people.

  60. bashthem says:

    a friends family saved a lot flying out of billy mitchel in milwakee wi. they took the blue line L to o’hare and the shuttle bus around the corner fron the L to milwakee. he said the bus ride was shorted than the last time it took to get through security at o’hare.

  61. spryte says:

    Yup, makes sense to me. I do all of the travel arrangements for my company and unless they absolutely won’t work for the schedule, I always use Southwest or JetBlue. Easiest to book, fewest stupid fees, and usually the best fares (especially Southwest on short flights). Sometimes we use Virgin America too which is also pretty good, though very limited in where it flies in and out of.

    United drives me crazy. $150 just to change one leg of a return flight to a flight an hour later..seriously? LAME.