There truly is no such thing as a free ride. Or free checked baggage, for that matter.
It seems as though airline passengers are getting nickel and dimed more than ever—at least that’s the sentiment behind a poll of more than 6,100 fliers conducted by Airfarewatchdog.
While passengers are getting charged more for everything from carry-on luggage to hauling your pet across the country, the carriers are reaping the rewards: Baggage and reservation-change fees alone racked up to about $6 billion, according to the Department of Transportation.
While airlines say the fees are necessary to recoup the cost of hauling your suitcases, “[Passengers] can feel gouged when they get charged,” Douglas Kidd, executive director of the National Association of Airline Passengers, told CNNMoney. “It’s not pleasant.”
According to the survey, here are the five air-travel-related fees that passengers say they hate the most:
1. Baggage fees. Costs to check in suitcases aren’t new, but the way the charges can fluctuate may make them all the more frustrating. For example, CNNMoney points out, Spirit Airlines varies its baggage fee depending on when you pay. If paid at booking, the first checked bag is $21 to $30—but this can rise to a range of $31 to $40 if paid while checking in online. At the airport, it jumps to $45; at the gate, $100. All told, Spirit has 24 different kinds of baggage fees.
2. Change or cancellation fees. These can range from $30 to $200. The irony, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, is that airlines will collect your fee and still be able to sell your newly empty seat because flights are always so full.
3. Advance seat selection charges: Low-cost carriers Allegiant Air, AirTran and Spirit all charge extra now to let you pick your seat ahead of time. An Allegiant spokesperson’s explanation was that the fee allows those who have no seating preference to be able to travel for a little less.
4. Phone reservation fees: If you’re the type who still likes to talk to an agent to book your reservation, then you’ll incur a $10 to $25 fee on most U.S. carriers.
5. Charges for last-minute frequent flier award tickets: If you want to redeem your miles for a ticket within 21 days of your departure date, you might get charged a fee of $75. The way to avoid the charge? Build even more miles, because higher-status fliers could see those fees waived, says Hobica.
Looking for ways to forego some of these costs? Here are some tips to beating airlines at their excessive fee game.