Fee-rocious Summer? Maybe, Unless You Read This

Did you hear the one about the airline that isn’t charging a fee? It’s true. Southwest recently launched a bunch of international flights but as is the case with its domestic fares if you change your mind about flying, there is no change fee.

LISTEN: Rick Seaney knows we’re sick of fees.

Billions in Fees

In 2014, airlines took in more than $6 billion in fees so there’s no point wishing them away. Expect a fee-rocious summer but remember that most of these fees really are optional. It’s up to you and depends on how you pack, where you like to sit and more.

Fees to Watch Out for This Summer

  • Seat fees: Many airlines require a fee for premium seats (and ‘premium’ is used loosely since it can mean anything beyond a middle seat). Delta’s new Basic Economy works on the same principle but a little differently: Basic Economy offers no advance seat selection so if you want to be sure family or friends are seated together, you might want to pay the extra for regular economy. Or not.
  • Temporary bag fee hikes: Spirit airlines is raising bag fees for summer travel, but don’t be surprised since they did the same thing last Christmas. Seasonal fee hikes are also common on discount carriers in other nations.
  • Higher bag fees: This spring, Frontier raised some of its baggage fees. If you don ‘t fly the airline often, be sure you know the latest prices.
  • New bag fee: Long-time hold-out JetBlue is expected to announce a first checked-bag fee at the start of the summer.

Avoiding Fees

Check out these strategies.

  • Branded credit cards: There are a wide variety of airline-branded credit cards out there which offer all kinds of perks including free bags, early boarding, better seats and more. Maybe one is right for you.
  • Use carry-ons: Most airlines offer carry-ons free of charge and you can pack enough for vacation. The video below shows you how.
  • Use very small carry-ons: Airlines that do charge for carry-ons such as Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit will let you bring a small bag on board as long as it fits under the seat.
  • Fly the free-bags airline: Hello, Southwest.

VIDEO: How to pack a carry-on.

See more on this topic in Rick’s latest column for ABC News; see all his columns here.

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Updated: June 2, 2015