All about airline fees and premium economy

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Are you bewildered by airline fees?  Airlines have added so many fees in recent years that it’s hard even for travel professionals to keep track of them all.  From ticket change fees, to checked baggage fees, to paying for seats that used to be free, airlines have been on a quest to monetize anything and everything they can.

As a travel expert, media outlets often contact me to talk about travel topics, and during the peak summer travel season, nothing is more timely than airline fees.  A recent piece in US News, What the Unbundling of Airline Fees Means for Your Wallet, talks about this issue in detail, with expert advice provided by me and other industry experts:

  • Deep discount carriers such as Ryanair and Spirit Airlines are usually the trendsetters of new fees.  Watch them for the future of the industry.
  • Many U.S.-based airlines charge for “premium” seats, which they define as seats near the front of the aircraft.  United actually offers more legroom, and Delta and American are finally starting to follow suit on some flights.
  • The industry trend is, “You get what you pay for”, whether that’s food, checked bags or seat assignments.  In theory the base fare should be cheaper, but that’s not always the case.

Remember that the greatest weapon against airline fees is having elite status with that airline.  While that won’t alleviate all fees (change fees are notoriously charged to all), fees like checked bags, assigned seats and even sometimes food are waived for some elite members.  The higher you go, the more benefits you’ll receive.


About the Author

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Ryan has been a travel expert for more than ten years. His journeys have taken him to all six inhabited continents, including living in the Middle East and backpacking across Australia, Asia and Europe.

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