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 )