Your Complete Big-Ass Guide To Annoying Airline Fees

As reported earlier today, the Government Accountability Office thinks airlines could do a lot more to be transparent about the fees they charge. And buried about 45 pages deep in the GAO’s report are two very helpful tables detailing fees for checked bags and other items that U.S.-based airlines charge extra for.

To save you the hassle of downloading and sifting through the PDF, we’ve excerpted those tables for you here.

First, here’s the page with fees for checked baggage on domestic flights:
baggagefeechart.JPG
Additional notes on this chart:
-Alaska Airlines does not charge for the first 3 checked bags for trips wholly within the state of Alaska.
-Spirit revised its checked baggage fee for travel on or after August 1, 2010 to $25 for each of the first two bags, and $85 for each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th bags.
-United also offers a $249 annual fee to check one or two bags per flight without charge.

And now here’s the chart of other fees charged by the same airlines:
otherfees.JPG

If you’re having trouble reading these or really feel like reading through the whole PDF, click here to download it yourself.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    Isn’t this all subject to change though? Are they going to be keeping (at least) monthly tabs on this… ?

  2. Billy says:

    So this isn’t a chart for people with big asses?

  3. SG-Cleve says:

    If you fly a lot you should look into getting the airline’s credit card.

    For example I have the Continental MasterCard. There is an $85 annual fee but I do not have to pay to check a bag. Also anyone traveling with me does not pay.

    One round trip with my wife and I each checking a bag would cost $100 in fees, so the savings on the first trip pays for the credit card. Plus using the card for purchases earns frequent flyer miles.

  4. Sparkstalker says:

    Hmm, the beverage fee doesn’t indicate whether they are referring to alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages…

    • lihtox says:

      I’d say it’s almost certainly alcoholic; it’s been a year since I’ve flown, but those prices correspond to what I remember of beer/cocktail prices, and I think I would have heard about it if ALL the airlines started charging ~$5 for soda (including Southwest and JetBlue who don’t charge for food.)

  5. FatLynn says:

    Can we add a column for stand-by, now that that is apparently a fee?

  6. Sunflower1970 says:

    I always try to fly Southwest. Never had any problem with them, and I like the no checked baggage fee. Recently, I had to fly on American and Delta. I was able to fit everything I could into my backpack that I’d need for a 5-day trip and carried it on. I refuse to pay for just one checked bag. I also won’t pay for food on a plane. Instead I bring my own treats. Always taste better than whatever is on a plane.

  7. Marshmelly says:

    The $12 pillows and blankets on Virgin America must be luxurious!

    • 339point4 says:

      Last time I flew on Virgin, it wasn’t just a pillow and blanket, it was also a baggie full of creature comforts (slippers, eyemask, etc.).

      • Marshmelly says:

        aah I see…that explains the cost a little better, especially if you get to keep all those items. Although I can’t imagine needing slippers on an airplane. haha

  8. Anonymously says:

    Someone needs to make a calculator that lets you input your fee based options and tells you which carriers are cheapest.

    • lihtox says:

      I really don’t know why Travelocity and Kayak (to name two sites) don’t include these fees (or at least the baggage fees) into their calculations. Let us punch in how many bags we’re going to bring, and then give us the total price to let us compare. (Kayak even has a chart up at http://www.kayak.com/airline-fees , but doesn’t include them in the price.)

      My guess: either (a) the booking sites aren’t able to obtain information about these fees in a timely manner, because the airlines are not providing them in any sort of standard format, and the sites are afraid to estimate and get it wrong; or (b) the airlines are pressuring the sites not to include the fees into the listed price. If either of these are true, then I’d say that’s a good reason to get the government involved.

      If the travel sites DID start listing fees, then the advantage of having fees would diminish, and maybe the airlines will start rolling them directly into the ticket price, the way they should have been doing from the start. If it costs more to fly these days, then just charge more; stop screwing around.

      • vastrightwing says:

        Everything should should be priced upfront. The idea of hidden fees in all areas should be illegal.

        For example: when you rent a car, the price advertised is the price you pay. No exceptions. I recently looked into booking rental cars on various popular discount sites. The result is, don’t rent at airports! Rent in town. The only problem is that renting in town limits your hours of being able to pick up the car to weekdays 8am – 5pm. At airport locations, the taxes and fees were MORE than advertised price of the rental. Of course, you don’t find this out until you go through all the motions of actually renting the car.

        Hotels, same thing. The fees advertised bear no resemblance to the actual price you pay. Depending on the city, the taxes and fees can be MORE than the room rate. I won’t stay in New York any more. Instead, I stay in Elizabeth NJ. You save 75% off the price of a New York City hotel (for a nicer room). Plus parking is free!

        In short, there should be a simple law across the board stating that the advertised price of anything should include all taxes and fees. In cases where that’s not possible, then there should be a large disclosure that advertises the possible range of prices where the advertised price is the most you’ll pay.

    • nbs2 says:

      You mean like http://www.truprice.net/ ?

      Produced by some flyertalkers, they are in beta right now, but it works reasonably well

  9. c!tizen says:

    I’ve got a much simpler list.

    Are you gonna fly? Yes.

    Fee

  10. Donathius says:

    I like the Southwest lines with all of the zeros. They make me happy.

  11. diasdiem says:

    Southwest Rules.

  12. 339point4 says:

    According to my family members that have flown in the past two weeks, JetBlue charges $6 for food (the chart says $0) and Delta has pillows and blankets (I assume for a fee).

    • DarthCoven says:

      Snacks and soda are still free on all JetBlue flights. Perhaps they have a new program offering full meals on longer flights?

      • pot_roast says:

        jetBlue has had snack boxes for a while. Perhaps that is what it’s referring to. I like their snack boxes.

  13. rockasocky says:

    Hawaiian still gives you a free meal. Sure it’s a crappy sandwich and a tiny brownie, but it’s free!

  14. ahecht says:

    The Southwest $0 “change or cancellation fee” is a bit misleading. It’s $0 if you are changing to a higher price ticket, book and fly a more expensive flight within 1 year of when you originally booked the changed/cancelled flight, or have one of the more expensive “Anytime” fares. Otherwise, you are stuck with a credit (which expires one year from your original booking date) and no way to get a cash refund.

    There are also other “Gotchas” with Southwest’s cancellation policy. Say that you book a flight on 1/1/10. You later rebook at a lower price and end up with a $10 credit that expires 1/1/11. On 12/1/10 you apply that $10 towards a new $250 ticket to fly on 12/24/10, but the morning of your flight you get sick and have to cancel. You get a $250 credit, but even though you booked and paid on 12/1/10, the entire $250 credit expires in just 7 days on 1/1/11. That $10 tainted the $240 you paid with a credit card.

  15. ahecht says:

    The Southwest $0 “change or cancellation fee” is a bit misleading. It’s $0 if you are changing to a higher price ticket, book and fly a more expensive flight within 1 year of when you originally booked the changed/cancelled flight, or have one of the more expensive “Anytime” fares. Otherwise, you are stuck with a credit (which expires one year from your original booking date) and no way to get a cash refund.

    There are also other “Gotchas” with Southwest’s cancellation policy. Say that you book a flight on 1/1/10. You later rebook at a lower price and end up with a $10 credit that expires 1/1/11. On 12/1/10 you apply that $10 towards a new $250 ticket to fly on 12/24/10, but the morning of your flight you get sick and have to cancel. You get a $250 credit, but even though you booked and paid on 12/1/10, the entire $250 credit expires in just 7 days on 1/1/11. That $10 tainted the $240 you paid with a credit card.

    • Michael says:

      Getting a credit is still way better than the “thanks for your money, now go away” that every other airline does.

    • SuperSnackTime says:

      After reading these extremely fair and reasonable things you called “gotchas,” I must say I’m even more impressed with SouthWest’s policies.

      I wish I could ever fly Southwest, but I happen to be at a huge metro airport and Southwest uses a secondary airport too far away to even justify the lower fares :-(

  16. microe says:

    I got a real kick out of the last table. I note that United has no trouble charging you $150 to change your reservation if you initiate it. I have a reservation that I paid for w/ United. United has changed the time of that flight 3 times so far. They even called me at 5AM Saturday to let me know that they overbooked the flight and would love to reschedule me on another flight at no charge. But they have not offered any change to the amount I paid for the ticket. Shocker!

  17. fuzzy says:

    I’m going through some United pain right now.

    I booked a reward flight through Air Canada and some segments are with United. It used to be that if you booked through another airline, you get the baggage policies of the airline you booked with. Not anymore apparently.

    So now I have to pay the baggage fee. They advertise like crazy that if you check in online you get a discount on the fees. Though, they don’t actually mention what that discount is. Funny that. They also don’t mention that to check in online you need to have a preassigned seat.

    Now maybe it’s just me but it seems that every other airline I’ve been with will assign you at check in. So I try to find a seat and apparently the pre-allotted percentage of preassigned seats has been filled. I’m not sure if that means the flight is overbooked or if they’re just screwing with me.

    So now, not only will I be shafted with the full baggage fee, I might not even be able to get on the plane this weekend.

    • Amy Alkon says:

      Air Canada doesn’t charge for the first bag, but is otherwise an unholy nightmare. Want to get somebody on the line (because you can’t book your seat on their site for a codeshare)? Both times I’ve flown them recently, I’ve waited long times. Last time, three calls: 16 minutes, 33 minutes, and I think the last one was around 20 minutes, before anybody picked up the phone.

  18. SuperSnackTime says:

    A thought, and would like to hear how anyone feels about this:

    Not that they’d do it, but would this be “fair” for an airline to charge you the following:

    The discounted rate of the revenue lost from holding your original seat “hostage” (since rates get higher but also the probability of an unfilled airline can now increase as well). And in the cases where you may have actually *made* the airline money (since they can now potentially sell a seat that WILL be occupied for hundreds more), they just let you switch for free and they keep the difference (this is when they would likely really “make” money off of you).

    A number like this could be reasonably estimated from a semi-sophisticated econometric model (something probably less complicated than they use to alter seat prices over time), on the fly [ha], no problem.

    Does that sound about right? Am I over thinking this?

  19. HIcycles says:

    I recently went to China on ANA. I got two free meals, free alcohol, two free checked bags, and free entertainment (the kind on the back of a headrest, with headphones).

    Amazing the crap we put up with for domestic flights.

    • Jevia says:

      Its not just domestic flights. I know that US Airways charges $5 for the headphones even on international flights.

  20. aikoto says:

    And as usual, Southwest is the only Airline worth anything.

  21. Optimistic Prime says:

    I can’t believe there’s a charge for booking your flight. That’s called “cost of doing business.” I’m waiting to see McDonalds charging me for placing an order.

  22. mike says:

    “United also offers a $249 annual fee to check one or two bags per flight without charge.”

    I think this is a bid misleading. It should read “United also offers a $249 annual fee to check one or two bags per flight without an additional charge at check-in.”

    You’re still paying for the bags, just in one lump sum. I guess it’s kind of like the definition of “unlimited”.

  23. Urgleglurk says:

    I was an airline supervisor for 25 years before I left the business in 2006. Even I can’t make heads or tails of the stuff the airlines put out these days for the variuos fees, taxes, etc., etc. It’s nucking futz!

  24. rossodianima says:

    Hey, http://www.airfarewatchdog.com has provided all these fees in a handy dandy chart for a while (including international carriers). When they updated the chart, they left the previous baggage fee so you can see how much the fees went up.
    http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/3801089/airline-baggage-fees-chart-updated/

  25. agent211 says:

    Midwest/Frontier: $50 flat rate for sports equipment. Not great, but cheapest way to get a bike anywhere.

  26. 4dawgswoof says:

    Personally, I like the menu pricing the airlines are moving to. I travel regularly for business and leisure and would rather pay the lowest possible fare for a non-inclusive ticket and pay for only the additional services that I want. I get tired of watching people roll up to the ticket counter with HUGE luggage, knowing that the airlines have to employee additional ticket agents and ground crews to process these passengers and move their bloated luggage. This translates into higher airlines rates for everyone.

  27. udesigns says:

    As a loyal JetBlue flyer, I’d like to clarify: both beverages and snacks are free (and unlimited!) in flight. Details: http://www.jetblue.com/about/whyyoulllike/about_why2.html

    Alcoholic beverages are $6, and they sell various boxed meals for $6 as well. But you can have as many bags of cookies/chips/etc. as you want for free, and as many non-alcoholic beverages as you want for free.

    That’s on top of the many other benefits they offer (more legroom, free DirecTV, and in my experience, generally wonderfully pleasant staff). I won’t fly with anyone else unless I have no choice.