From gas to groceries, with prices on everything just getting higher and higher, we still want to find ways to snag a bargain. Trouble is, just when you think you’ve found a bargain on a flight, you realize the price doesn’t include those pesky fees — everything from checked bags to seat selection. The good news is that Consumer Reports has found ways to avoid them.
Pang-Chieh-Ho is a contributing editor at Consumer Reports. She herself thought she had found a good deal on a flight to Florida – until she took a closer look.
“It was the carry-on fee that surprised me the most,” she said. “The charges for my flight were more expensive than the fare itself.”
Your experience is not unusual.
“Today, many airlines make more money from fees than they do from base fares,” said William McGee, Consumer Reports Aviation Adviser.
But McGee says you can still save.
CONSUMER REPORTS: Ways to save with rising airfares
First, check the airline’s website to find out exactly what’s included in the price for the type of ticket you’re considering.
“They’re making it very, very difficult for you to find a final price,” McGee warned.
You also need to decide what extras you are willing to pay for. Luggage is the most obvious – even carry-on luggage. Others may include seat assignment and early boarding.
McGee says while many airlines have relaxed or even eliminated change or cancellation fees, Southwest, for example, allows two free checked bags. A rarity.
Consumer Reports reminds you, if you’re trying to avoid a checked bag fee by only packing a carry-on bag, airlines have very strict rules about the size of carry-on bags you’re allowed to take with you.
If you are a frequent flyer with an airline, you should consider that airline’s credit card, which could offer valuable perks like free checked baggage, preferred seat selection and boarding, and other travel perks.
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Another piece of advice: grab a decent fare as soon as you see it.
“If you’re looking at a fare right now and think you’re going to travel this summer, my advice is to book it,” McGee said.
If your travel plans include a hotel stay, consider booking a flight and hotel package through the airline: Consumer Reports says the airfare you get is often lower than what you would pay if you booked the ticket separately .
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