Booking a flight isn’t easy. You’re hit with a dozen different seating options and travel packages, while prices exhibit high variance. American Airlines, for example, divides travelers into nine different classes—from its invite-only Concierge Program to “basic economy.”
This is called the “unbundling” of services, whereby airlines advertise low prices, but offer deals that end up being more expensive than expected.
Enter flight fees, which cover “amenities” and bust your travel budget. United Airlines charges passengers $9 to board earlier. WOW Air makes you pay for food and water on your trip. Other airlines charge you to use overhead bins. Tacked-on fees can add up and ruin your flight experience.
To avoid flight fees, know what you’re buying. Fortunately, countless travel websites now exist to make the booking process easier and cheaper. Kayak recently launched a new search engine that breaks down ticket prices by class, allowing you to see what’s offered based on class. The company also added a baggage fee calculator, so you know how much it costs to travel with one or two bags.
Google Flights, meanwhile, displays baggage fees and highlights flight restrictions in searches. If you see a cheap fare, you can also see the limitations on services being provided.
You should also know your rights. Roughly 90 percent of U.S. travelers don’t know their rights while travelling, leaving $6 billion in unclaimed financial compensation every year.
If you’re stuck on a tarmac for two hours, you’re supposed to receive food and water. If you’re involuntarily bumped from a flight, you are generally entitled to food vouchers and even reimbursements up to $1,350.
Keep that in mind, and travel safe!