Airline Fee Update: What's Going Up, What's Going Down

A few airline fees are rising and there’s talk of even more hikes. But one carrier is reversing the trend.

Listen: Airfare analyst Rick Seaney says, watch out!

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Southwest

The popular Texas-based carrier will raise fees for transporting pets in the cabin next year (the airline does not allow pets to travel as cargo).

  • Pet fee: Beginning Jan. 15, this fee rises from $75 to $95 per animal.

On the bright side, Southwest still doesn’t charge a change fee, and still allows passengers to check two bags for free.

Frontier

The Denver-based airline offers several classes of travel ranging from Basic to Classic Plus with varying fees.

  • Unaccompanied minor fee: Beginning March 24, this fee rises for Basic passengers from $100 to $150 and for other classes from $50 to $100.
  • Second checked-bag: Beginning March 24, Classic and Classic Plus travelers will pay $30 for a second checked-bag which had previously been free.

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Ryanair

Europe’s ultra-low discount carrier, widely known for being fee-friendly, has been getting some bad press lately which may be why it now plans to lower some fees.

  • Advance seat selection: The $15.95 fee will reportedly be slashed in half.
  • Airport bag check-in: This fee which had been over $90, will drop to less than $50.

Fees of the Future?

As FareCompare reported last month, the CEO of discounter Spirit is kicking around the idea of raising its baggage and seat selection fees. Will it fly? Good question. Spirit has numerous fans, but they may be getting tired of all the fees, as Ryanair’s passengers seem to be.

Then there’s the Southwest situation; the airline knows it has a terrific brand thanks in part to all those bags fly free ads but it’s also missing out on millions in fees. Earlier this fall, CEO Gary Kelly hinted about this, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Kelly said that if fliers come to better understand and maybe even prefer ‘an a la carte approach – we’d be crazy not to provide our customers with what they want’.” Translation: Never say never, but as a Southwest spokesman immediately noted, there are currently “no plans” for new fees.

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Published: December 3, 2013