The term “junk fee” – in relation to airlines – has been around at least since 2001 but it’s really been getting a workout the past few years. The latest junk fee: Allegiant’s $5 charge for printing out a boarding pass which goes into effect Sept. 1.
Latest Junk Fees
In fairness, the boarding pass fee is avoidable; simply print it out yourself at home (you also don’t have to pay if you are disabled or if there is some problem with Allegiant’s site though how you’d prove a computer snafu is unclear). And Allegiant isn’t the first: Spirit has been charging a fee to print out boarding passes for some time now and just last year doubled it to $10.
Attention JetBlue fans: The airline that gives you one checked-bag for free is said to be seriously rethinking that.
Other Junk Fees
Some people lump all non-optional charges under the ever-widening umbrella of junk fees and it may be a matter of what one gets used to. Most no longer consider checked-bag fees junk because they’ve been around so long; most major airlines adopted them six years ago. But some fees are junkier than others including:
Beverage fees: We’re not talking about alcohol, we’re talking about Cokes and coffee and even water. Allegiant and Spirit have been charging for beverages for years and this year Frontier joined in.
Carry-on fees: This is one that may spread to other airlines, thanks to checked-bag fees putting the squeeze on the limited amount of bin space for carry-ons. At the moment, though, these fees are only charged by Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit.
Seat selection fees: More and more seats seem to be sliding into the premium zone which costs a fee. Yes, many airlines still allow free seat selection, but often the only fee-less aisles and windows are way in the back. Both Allegiant and Spirit offer no-fee seating but you have no choice in this matter as they are selected for you via computer; if you want to choose you pay a fee.
Change fee: Southwest is the only airline that does not have a change fee. Others including American, Delta, United and US Airways charge $200 for changes which can drive travelers crazy. Most of us will never pay this fee but on those rare occasions when flight plans must change, this one can really hurts. True, it can be avoided by purchasing a refundable ticket, but these tickets are generally four or five times more expensive than a non-refundable coach fare.