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Compare Airline Fees: What it Really Costs to Fly


Flickr.Airport.GeraldLooijeEveryone loves finding cheap airfare. But as airlines struggle to stay profitable by moving to a la carte style pricing, the ticket price that looked so low on a booking site may turn out to be the starting point, not your final price.

Before you book your next plane ticket, compare airline fees and take them into account before you buy. On most major U.S. airlines, for example, simply checking two regular-weight bags on a domestic flight will add $120 to a roundtrip fare.

We have compiled what some of the most popular airlines are charging for things like baggage, onboard wireless Internet, pets, and snacks and adult beverages. (Tip: bookmark this page and use it as a reference to compare airline fees next time you’re booking plane tickets.)

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How do you avoid fees while flying? Let us know in a comment!

Book now: Find cheap fares at Expedia.com

American Airlines
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked $25
2nd Checked $35
Food & Drink
Snacks $2-$3
Meals $8-$9
Drinks
Soft Drinks Free
Alcohol $6 (beer), $7 (liquor/ wine)
Pets
In Cabin $125 each way
Checked $175 each way
Wi-Fi
$2 & up
Ticket Changes
$200 + fare differential
Other Fees
Preferred Seating $4-$99
Streaming TV Shows $0.99 & up
Group 1 Boarding $9
Headsets $2

Delta Airlines
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked $25
2nd Checked $35
Food & Drink
Snacks Free pretzels or cookies, others $3-$4
Meals $8-$9
Alcohol $5
Pets
In Cabin $125 each way
Checked $200 each way
Wi-Fi
$14 for 24-hour pass
Ticket Changes
Domestic $200 + fare differential
International $250 + fare differential
Other Fees
Direct Ticketing $25-$35
Priority Boarding $10

JetBlue
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked Free
2nd Checked $40
Food & Drink
Meals $5.99
Alcohol $5.99
Pets
In Cabin $100 each way
Checked Not available
Wi-Fi
Coming in 2013
Ticket Changes
Fares Under $99 $50 + fare differential
Fares More Than $99 $100 + fare differential
Other Fees
Direct Ticketing $20
Paper Tickets $50
Blanket & Pillow $4.99-$5.99
Headsets $2

Southwest Airlines
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked Free
2nd Checked Free
Food & Drink
Snacks Free
Meals Not available
Alcohol $5
Pets
In Cabin $75 each way
Wi-Fi
$8 when available
Ticket Changes
No change fee; fare differential only
Other Fees
Early Check-in $12.50 each way

United Airlines
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked $25
2nd Checked $35
Food & Drink
Snacks $3
Meals $8-$9
Alcohol $6 (beer), $7 (liquor/ wine)
Pets
In Cabin $125 each way
Checked $175 each way
Wi-Fi
Varies based on flight length
Ticket Changes
$200 + fare differential
Other Fees
Paper Tickets $50
Direct Ticketing $25-$30

U.S. Airways
Domestic Baggage
Carry-on Free
1st Checked $25
2nd Checked $35
Food & Drink
Snacks $3-$6
Meals $8
Alcohol $7
Pets
In Cabin $125 each way
Checked Not available
Wi-Fi
$4.95 & up, based on flight length
Ticket Changes
Domestic $200 + fare differential
International $250-$300 + fare differential
Other Fees
Direct Ticketing $25-$35
Choice Seats $5-$99
Priority Boarding $10
Paper Tickets $50

Book now: Find cheap fares at Expedia.com

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About Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar, author of Mac n' Cheese to the Rescue, is a food and travel writer working with numerous notable publications on both print and online. A firm believer that traveling and great food don't have to compromise finances, she's always finding great ways to save. She is currently living in Chicago with her husband Mark. You can follow her on Twitter @KristenKuchar.

Comments

  1. TroubledSpirit says:

    What about Spirit? I think they should be exposed the most, as they are the epitome of the “a la carte” type of flight booking. Always the cheapest to begin with, but never flown them because of their horrible add-ons.

    • David E. Weliver says:

      Thanks for the note; we will add Spirit shortly — agreed, they are the most infamous for insane fees…so much so it’s almost laughable, but some people are happy to give up what used to be basic airline amenities for the cheapest “base fare” possible.