Lesser-Known Airline Fees: The Ones You Don't Hear About

Most of us know by now that if we’re going to be flying in the U.S., we’re going to pay a checked-baggage fee (with JetBlue and Southwest being the notable exceptions to this rule).

But that’s not all. There are lots of other airline fees out there and some will surprise you. As Darren Frei of Shermans Travel Media notes, “For folks who may have put off air travel for the past couple years, this a` la carte pricing can come as quite a rude awakening.”Take a look at the FareCompare Domestic Airline Fee Chart for a broad sampling of carrier fees.

We’ve investigated some of the more unusual or unique carrier fees below and show you what you get for the money.

Unique Airline Fees

Some of the more unusual fees that infrequent fliers may be unfamiliar with include the following:

Free Bags for a Year: United offers this “all you can eat” baggage fee; for one flat rate, you and each member of your party get two free checked-bags every time you fly in a year. Plus, United offers a door-to-door bag service – for a hefty price tag.

Carryon: Only one U.S. carrier now charges passengers a fee to tote a carry-on baggage aboard its planes, and that’s discounter Spirit Airlines. The fee can cost up to $45, making it even more expensive than its fee for a single checked-bag.

Blanket and Pillows: Want a blanket and a pillow for your coach class seat? You’ll pay as nuch as $8 for that on American, JetBlue and US Airways. Meanwhile, Southwest has done away with the amenity altogether (a spokesman said passengers appreciate the extra bin space). Watch for more airlines to jump on this particular bandwagon in the future.

Early Boarding: The price of this fee varies, and the reason people are willing to pay it is to get first crack at the ever-elusive overhead bin space. One of the better bargains is Southwest’s “$10Ã?Â?Ã? EarlyBird Boarding Fee,” which also gives its “no reserved seating” passengers first dibs on the best seats.

Phone Reservations: Yes, there are still a few people who book airline tickets by phone and they pay for the privilege, as much as $35 per call.

WiFi: If you’re a business traveler want to get some work done or amuse yourself on a long flight with Facebook or other fun stuff, this ariline fee is for you; and more and more airlines are busily wiring up their fleets. Either pay-by-the-flight, or frequent fliers can sign up for monthly rates.

Unaccompanied Minor Fees: Many of us will never have to worry about this fee but if you have a youngster who must fly solo, you should know that many airlines charge an additional $200 roundtrip to assist young travelers, and that’s on top of the cost of the ticket. Do not attempt to book a young traveler on Allegiant, however, the airline no longer allows little kids to fly alone. Solo passengers must be 14 or older.

Did I miss any unique or unusual fees you may have encountered during your travels? Please share with me below.


Published: December 13, 2010