We’ve all experienced unexpected extra fees when you arrive at the airport. That flight you thought was such a great deal all of a sudden costs another $25 each way* for your first checked-in bag, and up to $35 for a second bag†. Want to choose which seat you sit in? That can cost up to $109 extra‡!
Setting up your online travel itinerary is so convenient. But since the travel-sites sprang up, the airlines learned that we were sorting them all by price rather than by a preferred carrier. We’ll fly on almost any airline if the price is right. Because of that, they’ve lowered prices but included new charges at the airport, with fees for baggage, overweight/oversize bags, travel with pets, unaccompanied minors, and food and beverages. This page at Expedia.com itemizes them for each airline. But, there are even more sneaky fees and tricks you might run into while you’re booking:
You sort your search results by lowest price. Aha! A great deal to Denver for $220. You select it. Next you see a notice that the price is no longer available!
Lesson: Don’t count on the price until you click through.
You get a great price and show up at the airport only to find that there are added taxes, fees, and surcharges. This applies to hotel reservations as well. Some charge fees for booking by phone, and some charge for booking online ... what?
Lesson: Visit the airline’s website (or hotel) to check for all hidden fees.
You book your flight, hotel, and rental car for one price. If you’d checked the prices separately you may find out that it wasn’t such a great deal after all.
Lesson: Check the individual prices of your travel package before you book (great helper site: DealBase).
You purchase your ticket through a certain online site because you heard you’d receive a refund if the price goes down. Sigh, the fine print and process of getting a refund is often more trouble than it’s worth.
Lesson: Find the best deals on your own, and don’t rely on refunds (great helper sites: Bing and Yapta).
You’re booking well in advance and keep searching for better prices and nothing better is coming up. Guess what, it’s those dang cookies! Try using two different browsers, or delete the cookies before searching again.
Lesson: Delete travel-site cookies before each new search.
*American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin America
†American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways
‡United Airlines preferred seat selection $14.00–$109.00