Six Strategies to Avoid Airline Fees

If you feel like you’re paying more airline fees this year than you did in 2012, you’re not crazy! Recently, TravelNerd discovered that airlines in the United States have changed 52 fees since last year.
In other words – if you’re not careful, you can end up paying an arm and a leg to get from Point A to Point B. Thankfully, there are things you can do to avoid many of these fees in order to keep the cost of travel down.
Here are our top tips for avoiding airline fees:
1. Use an airline credit card
If you’re OK with flying one airline fairly frequently, you may want to sign up for an airline credit card. Many airlines offer perks (such as one free checked bag) when you book with their credit card.
2. Don’t book until your plans are set in stone
departing LAX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most airlines charge a fee for changing the date or time of your flight. In some cases, this fee can be more than the cost of the flight itself! Avoid those fees by booking only when you have a solid plan in place. If that isn’t an option, American Airlines now offers customers a bit of flexibility with their “Choice Essential” tickets.
3. Book directly with the airline…
While third-party booking sites are a great way to find the cheapest flight, you may want to complete your booking through the airline itself. Why? Many third-party sites don’t allow you to pay for baggage ahead of time, and unfortunately, may airlines charge more for baggage at the gate.
4. … but book online, not over the phone
When booking a flight directly through the airline, you may want to book online as opposed to over the phone. Many airlines charge a booking fee for reservations made over the phone, but don’t do that for online reservations.
5. Bring your own food
Plan ahead by packing a few snacks to bring on flight, as many airlines charge inflated rates for in-flight snacks and meals. Just remember, no liquids or semi-liquids, like yogurt.
6. Print your boarding pass at home
Several airlines now charge a fee for printing your boarding pass at the gate. In order to avoid this fee, come prepared and print your boarding pass at home. Or use the airline’s smartphone app so you don’t even have to print the pass.
Finally, the best way to avoid airline fees is to be an informed traveler and do your research before booking. Before you book what appears to be the cheapest flight option, check out the airline’s website and crunch some numbers. You may be surprised to find out that the “budget” option isn’t necessarily the cheapest in the long run.
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