Which Airlines Pile On The Most Fees? Compare And Learn

Our friends over at NerdWallet are always coming up with useful, easy-to-use tools that sift and collate financial information that is normally scattered in a lot of different places. Most of these tools involve credit cards and banking, but they’ve recently opened a travel section. A handy new tool on the site lets you calculate the fees that different airlines charge for the same options, such as checked baggage, rebooking, or unaccompanied minor tickets. This makes it easier to compare airfares that might seem cheap before you start piling on fees.

Let’s say, for example, you’re checking one bag, carrying on another, and have booked your round-trip ticket online but want to print your boarding pass at the airport. These options will cost you an extra $199.98 flying fee-happy Spirit Airlines, but JetBlue and Southwest charge zero fees for any of them. Neato.

Compare Airline Fees [NerdWallet]

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  1. Coffee says:

    American Airlines
    Checked bags $50

    Delta Airlines
    Checked bags $50

    Hawaiian Airlines
    Checked bags $50

    US Airways
    Checked bags $50

    United Airlines
    Checked bags $50

    Virgin America
    Checked bags $50

    What this chart really tells us is just how collusive the major airlines in keeping their fees in line with one another.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Your honor – there’s a simple explanation for how every airline suddenly decided to charge $50 for checked bags. You see, there’s a thing called market forces. There’s also something called supply and demand, and. . .ummm, what’s that your honor, I’m under oath?

      OK, I admit it. We colluded on baggage, fuel surcharge, and other prices since the very beginning since we can’t make money the normal way, but I SWEAR the other other guys started it first and I had no choice but to follow. PLEASE don’t send me to jail.

      Ohhh, what’s that again your honor, the company is considered a person? I don’t have to go to jail? All we have to do is pay a fine? Well then fu*k you because we can!!!

      • Coffee says:

        Don’t be ridiculous…fines hurt the bottom line, and at the end of the day, we have shareholders to answe-…

        …what? The fine is $8,000? Are you fucking kidding me? Who made that rule? Oh…we wrote that legislation?!? And they rubber-stamped it? Oh, this is too rich.

    • MarkFL says:

      Southwest
      Checked bags $0

      JetBlue
      First checked bag $0

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    A way to save us A LOT of time would be to list the airlines that DON’T
    pile on the most fees. It would also be Consumerist’s shortest article.

    • Coffee says:

      Also, this kind of thing might actually be useful if some actually determined where the airlines’ ticket prices fell relative to the market average. If Southwest costs $13 more than average but has no fee and Spirit costs $39 less than average and has a carry-on fee…well…a fee list is obviously worthless without context.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        It’s like those mattress commercials promising that you won’t find a lower price on that EXACT same mattress. Problem is that every store has a slightly different mattress than every other store even though they are all made by a small number of manufacturers.

        Therefore, no easy price comparison.

      • who? says:

        True that. My experience flying to visit Dad in Denver is that Southwest consistently charges about $10 more than the other guys, both big (United) and small (Frontier). But after a couple of $150 change fees on United (Dad’s not in good health, so things can change on short notice), I decided I could fly Southwest every few months for the rest of his life (he’s 84), and still come out ahead.

        That doesn’t stop me from checking the other guys’ fares every now and again, though.

  3. GrimJack says:

    I didn’t realize that Southwest charged $45 to gate-check a carry-on that didn’t meet size/weight limits (even though they don’t charge generally for the first two checked bags). Bravo to SWA – that will make people think twice before trying to drag their giant duffel bags onto the plane and take up the entire overhead bin!

    • Cat says:

      But people don’t NEED to stuff the overhead with a carry on if they can check 2 bags.

      Bravo again to SWA.

    • carsinamerica says:

      Incorrect. Southwest doesn’t charge anything to gate-check a bag. See: http://www.nerdwallet.com/travel/southwest-airlines/fee-calculator. Spirit does.

      • GrimJack says:

        Per nerdwallet (http://www.nerdwallet.com/travel/airline-fees/carry-on-luggage-sizes), SWA charges $50 to gate-check any bag over 50 lbs. As I said, charge applies to oversize(weight) carry-ons…

        • who? says:

          50 pounds is considered overweight by most airlines, even for checked bags. By comparison, American charges an *extra* $100 for a 51 pound bag.

          That said, unless you’re carrying a bag full of rocks, a fully stuffed carryon probably isn’t more than 30 pounds. When I go to China I check a fully stuffed 30″ (the *big* size) hard sided suitcase. Air China has a 55 pound limit, so I pack it to 54 pounds going to China. Coming home, it weighs about 40 lbs. Someone carrying that big of a bag would not make it through the security checkpoint without being sent back to the ticket counter to check the bag anyway.

  4. BigHeadEd says:

    Holy cow, I checked the option for “Select Seat” and Allegiant is charging $150 to pick your own seat round-trip. Family of four trying to fly together – ouch. Still not as bad as BA’s $98 per flight seat selection policy for Business class (more than 24-hours in advance).

  5. dotlou says:

    Had an overcharge baggage problem with Spirit Airlines made in May 2012, only noticed the overcharge on July 10th. I call the airline with no help of getting a refund. I sent an e-mail
    to Heather Harvey, at Customer Support@Spirit.com on July 10th about my overcharge. I recieved a computer generated reponse within a few minutes letting me know that I would hear from them. Spirit got back to me 2 hours later letting me know that they refunded the overcharge.

    I have never really had a problem with Spirit Airlines (except sometimes understanding the reps on the telephones and having to ask them to repeat), the counter help, stewarts, TSA agents have always been very nice and helpful. I have never had a flight delayed. I have many visitors
    and have never heard a complaint from any on them in 6 years. It could be the terminals used make a difference.