Some Airlines Now Charge $400+ for Some Bags

You already know most U.S. airlines charge $50 round-trip for a single checked-bag, but you may not have realized just how much certain baggage fees have soared on some international routes – as much as $400 and more.

Fees travelers say they'd be happy to pay for

Airline Fees Change without Notice

Airlines often tweak fees with little notice so changes that have occurred within the past year may be unfamiliar to you. While you may never get hit with some of the more exotic fee examples you're about to see, you never know – and to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Expensive Baggage Fees

  • American Airlines: Travel from the U.S. to Asia and you get a generous allowance of two checked-bags for free. However, if one of the bags weighs 70 lbs. or more, the fee is $450.
  • United Airlines: Travel from the U.S. to South American (excluding Brazil) and a second checked-bag costs $70. However, if one bag weighs 70 lbs. or more, the overweight fee will cost $400 for a grand total of $470.
  • Allegiant and Spirit: These airlines charge for carry-on bags that don't fit under the seat in front of you; if you don't pay the fee until you get to the gate, it will cost you $75 and $100 respectively.

Avoid the fee: Use a carry-on for domestic flights it is still free on most airlines (and JetBlue and Southwest still offer one checked-bag for free). For longer trips, limit yourself to a single checked-bag and keep it under 50 lbs.

Expensive Booking Fees

  • Most airlines: Nearly all U.S. carriers charge a phone reservation fee which can run as high as $25 at the larger airlines.
  • Online fee: While Spirit Airlines charges a modest $10 phone fee, it also charges a fee for passengers who do their own booking online, from $9 to $17 one-way.
  • Awards tickets: Booking these tickets by phone can be even more expensive than regular fares. For example, US Airways charges $90 for this service for international flights.

Avoid the fee: Do-it-yourself online whenever possible (though as far as we can tell, there's no way to avoid a Spirit booking fee).

Avoid High Fees

Bottom line: Always check the fees before checking a bag or adding any airline service or extra to avoid a nasty surprise. There is no reason to waste all that money you saved on airfare.

Anne McDermott
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