Here’s something you don’t want to add to your holiday travel list: add-on fees that airlines and hotels pass on to you as a means of increasing their profits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines collected an unbelievable $7.5 billion in 2017 from two types of flyer fees alone: changes made to airline tickets and baggage charges.
But you don’t need to have Santa’s sleigh to fly free and easy; many charges are avoidable if you know what to do. Here’s how to get around five of the most common surcharges.
1. Baggage Fees
Most airlines charge you for checked luggage, and additional fees can apply for bags weighing more than 50 pounds. Some airlines even charge $25 for carry-on bags that you’ll place in the overhead bin. If you have the airlines’ co-branded credit card you might be able to get your baggage fee waived. In addition, consider flying with Southwest Airlines, the only U.S. airline that allows ticket holders two free checked bags.
2. Airline Ticket-Change Fees
Things happen. Plans get upended. And ticket-change penalties are plunked down. Such is life, so you say. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Under the U.S. Department of Transportation rules, all airlines must allow you to change or cancel a ticket, without penalties or additional fees, if you do so within the first 24 hours after purchase. Or you can book a flight on Southwest, which doesn’t assess fees regardless of when you make the change.
3. Booking By Phone Fees
Paying an extra $25 for buying airline tickets over the phone doesn’t have a nice ring to it. Several airlines charge for the convenience of calling for your tickets; why not book online instead? It’s faster, more convenient, and — best of all — free.
4. Airline Seat-Selection Changes
Saving some cash doesn’t have to take a back seat when it comes to selecting the seat you want on a flight: Some airlines offer free seat selection. It’s also worth noting that airlines with seat fees typically allow passengers to make a free seat choice 48 or 24 hours before the flight, but be aware that seating may be limited and you could find it difficult to find two or more seats together if you’re traveling with family or friends.
5. Cell Phone Roaming Charges
Before you travel overseas, check to see if your cell phone plan has international service built-in so that you can avoid expensive roaming and data charges, which can add up quickly. If you forget to make any necessary changes to your service plan before you head out on your vacation, business trip, or a quick jaunt to rejuvenate, try to keep cellular charges at a minimum by relying on Wi-Fi whenever possible.