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How Can I Avoid Hidden Fees on My Next Flight?

When you find a cheap deal on airline tickets, you think you’re ready for your next vacation. But what you likely don’t realize is just how expensive your flight may be once you arrive at the airport.

The price you see online isn’t always the price you’ll end up paying – and many “great deals” online are laden with hidden fees. If you don’t know about these hidden fees, the flight you paid for could end up costing you as much as $100 more.

Don’t spend more just because you don’t know these hidden fees exist. Here’s how you can get around those added fees and keep your ticket costs low.

An Airline Credit Card Can Eliminate the Baggage Fee

One of the biggest expenses people forget to add to their airline tickets? Checked baggage fees.

Long gone are the days when checking luggage was free. Almost all airlines charge extra if you want your baggage checked. But you could wind up paying for every one of your bags. Now, some airlines will charge for your carry on bag too.  

If you don’t want to be surprised about this fee, read the airline baggage policy online – that’s where you’ll see exactly how much you’ll be paying for baggage. According to TripAdvisor, baggage fees usually range between $25 to $75 for your first checked bag.

One way to avoid this fee that most people don’t know about is to get your preferred airline’s branded credit card – especially if you’re a frequent flyer. When you buy your ticket with the airline’s credit card, not only will you be accumulating “miles” that you can use for flight discounts (or even free flights), but you’ll also find the baggage fee is waived.

Avoid Seat Selection Fees

When you book your ticket online, many airlines will allow you to choose your seat before your flight. This is one way you can guarantee yourself a window seat or a seat close to family and friends – but it’s going to cost you.

To get a preferred seat, an airline can charge anywhere from $10 to $60. One possible way to avoid this fee is to arrive early for your flight – sometimes the flight agent may be able to get you your preferred seat without the extra charge.

You’ll also want to search online before booking to learn if the airline has any special seating fees. Swapping your seat from a “plus” or “preferred” economy seat to a simple economy section seat can save you significantly on your ticket fees.

Be Aware of Airlines’ Cancellation or Reservation Change Fees

Many airlines will charge you a cancellation fee or a fee to change a reservation – it’s important to understand the airlines’ policy because these fees can be hefty.  According to American Airline’s policy, they impose a $200 cancellation fee for domestic flights and can charge up to $750 for a cancellation on an international flight.

It’s important to know that there is an exception for domestic flights. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as long as you’ve booked a non-refundable ticket you are allowed to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours of booking a flight that is more than seven days away.

Book Early to Avoid Being Charged for Redeeming Frequent Flyer Miles

Redeeming frequent flyer miles should be a good thing and most of the times it is. However, sometimes airlines will charge an added fee if you book a flight with airline miles – but this depends on how and when you book.

If you book a flight over-the-phone flight a set number of days before and use miles, you may be subjectable to the added charge. For example, American and United Airlines will charge $75 if you book a flight using miles less than 21 days before the flight. To avoid this fee, make sure to book your flight way in advance.

Save Money on Your Next Flight

Unfortunately, hidden fees do exist, and paying extra for airline services that used to be free can be frustrating.  It’s important to take the time to research each airline booking policy so that you know what added airline fees to expect – this will help you to plan and avoid any surprises.

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