Six Ways to Avoid Airline Fees

Now is a pretty good time to be an airline customer. Cutthroat competition has reduced airfares to some of the lowest levels in history (adjusted for inflation) and that has been a great deal for all travelers. However, to make up the drop in revenue caused by low fares airlines have made up the difference with fees for everything they used to offer for free. The good news about fees is that if you approach them correctly you can almost completely avoid them. Forbes has a great article up that shares some great tips to make sure that you pay only for the price of your boarding pass and no more:

Don’t check bags – Try to travel light enough that you only need two small carry-on items. Fees for checked bags average around $25 per bag and usually escalate for additional checked bags. At the same time don’t be that guy who brings way too much luggage into the cabin just to avoid the fees and hogs up all of the overhead compartments. Pack light and efficiently and you’ll save money.

Check fees beforehand – If you know that you must check bags, check the fee structures of the various carriers before you buy your ticket. You need to remember to add that into the cost of your ticket when shopping. Some airlines like Southwest have far better checked bag fees and policies than others.

Weigh your luggage – Checked bags often come with weight limits and exceeding those limits can cost a lot of money you didn’t expect to spend. For frequent travelers a luggage scale is a wise investment for smart packing. One good tip is to put some of the heaviest items you have in your carry-on. While there are technically weight limits to carry-on items they are very rarely enforced.

Don’t pay for early boarding – You don’t want to be the last person to board the plane if you’re checking no bags but it’s not worth it to pay $20 to cut in line. The trick is knowing ahead of time how the airline loads their planes and selecting your seat accordingly. Some airlines load back to front or window seats first and if you know that and pick your seat accordingly you can make sure you’re not the last person on without paying extra.

Unplug
– In-flight wi-fi really isn’t worth it yet. It’s not available for the first and last 30 minutes of the flight and it’s not entirely reliable at all points in between. It may be worth it if you’re taking an 8+ hour flight across an ocean but for shorter flights you don’t really need that internet access.

Uncheck those boxes – When you’re going through the process of buying a plane ticket online the airline will try to upsell you at every turn. The box for things like travel insurance and early boarding are often automatically checked by the airline hoping you wouldn’t notice it until they actually have more of your money than you thought. Make sure not to rush through the process of buying your tickets and read through everything. They’re trying to sneak stuff by you, don’t let them do it.

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