Airline Fees: The Latest Round-up of Those Irritating Extras

If you live in Canada or fly to that beautiful country, there’s a new fee you should know about. Plus some fees U.S. travelers may have overlooked.

WestJet Adds Bag Fee

 WestJet: Canadian low cost carrier WestJet has added a new $25 one-way fee for a first checked-bag, for travel starting Oct. 29. This applies to the airline’s Econo fares within Canada and for travel between the U.S. and Canada.

A WestJet spokesman said, “This allows you to personalize how you want to fly by paying only for what you want or need.” A customer may retort, “Fine, let me personalize with a free bag” but that’s not going to happen as long as fees help airlines stay profitable. UPDATE 9-22-14: That didn’t take long. Air Canada says it too will begin charging a first checked-bag fee.

  • How to avoid this fee: Use a carry-on bag instead of a large must-be-checked suitcase.

Recent Fee Changes

Allegiant: As of Sept. 1, Allegiant began charging $5 to print out a boarding pass at the airport and if this seems odd, Spirit Airlines has been doing it for years.

  • How to avoid this fee:  Print boarding passes at home or go paperless with Allegiant’s free mobile app.

American: Earlier this month, the carrier began charging a mandatory unaccompanied minor fee for children traveling alone aged 12-14. This brings American in line with fees charged by merger partner US Airways.

  • How to avoid this fee: The child can travel with someone aged 16 or older, or travel alone at age 15.

Overlooked Fee

Hawaiian: Christopher Elliott wrote about an unusual case in which a woman was traveling in first class and her two sons were in coach (just a few rows behind her within her line of sight). Nevertheless, she was told she must pay a $100 unaccompanied minor fee. The reason: The children were traveling in a different cabin from the adult.

  • How to avoid this fee: This one’s simple – everyone fly in first class or everyone fly in coach.


Updated: November 3, 2014