Airlines Charging the Highest Fees


By Mike Sauter, 24/7 Wall St.

7. Air Canada
Total additional fees: $545
First checked bag: $25
Book by phone: $0
Unaccompanied minors: $100 (nonstop only)

For flights between the U.S. and Canada, all of the extra fees could cost Air Canada travelers at least an $545 in addition to base fare. The airline charges a $150 fee in order to change a flight in advance, among the highest rates of all airlines. Although the $25 and $35 charged for the first and second checked bag are about average for all airlines, the $100 fee charged for each additional bag, while not the highest, is higher than most airlines. However, there are bright spots. The airline does not charge any fee to book a flight, one of the few airlines that do not.

6. Spirit (NASDAQ: SAVE)
Total additional fees: $646
First checked bag: $30-$100
Book by phone: $11-$19/direction
Unaccompanied minors: $100 (nonstop or direct only)

Although Spirit is considered a low-cost airline, the company gets a hefty share of its money by charging its customers for extras. Spirit caused a commotion when it decided to charge fees for carry-on bags. The company argued that the carry-on fees would be offset by lower base fares, Spirit considers a bag to be overweight if it is over 40 lbs rather than the typical 50 lbs. Fortunately for travelers, a bag between 41 lbs and 50 lbs costs just $25 extra while bags between 51 lbs and 70 lbs cost an extra $50, considerably lower than most overweight baggage fees. The first checked bag costs a minimum of $30, while the second checked bag costs a minimum of $40, both the highest of all airlines.

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5. United (NYSE: UAL)
Total additional fees: $666
First checked bag: $25
Book by phone: $25
Unaccompanied minors: $99

United is one of just three airlines, along with American and US Airways, that charges $75 when a frequent flyer wants to redeem points for a ticket within 21 days of departure. Like most airlines, if a customer isn’t able to fit in a seat, he or she has to purchase an additional ticket. Unlike most airlines, however, United will not refund customers for the price of the additional seat if the flight has extra space. Like the other major carriers in the U.S., the company has improved its performance by merging with another company. United merged with Continental Airlines in May 2010, forming United Continental Holdings. It is the largest airline in the world by available seat kilometers, which is the number of available seats times the number of kilometers flown by the airline.

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4. Delta (NYSE: DAL)
Total additional fees: $754
First checked bag: $25
Book by phone: $20-$35
Unaccompanied minors: $100

Delta is one of just four airlines that charges additional fees of more than $700. There is a $150 fee in order to change a flight in advance, tied for the highest among all airlines. In order to check a third bag, passengers must cough up $125, among the highest of all airlines. It gets worse. All additional bags after that cost $200 each, more than any other airline. Delta merged with Northwest Airlines back in 2008. The airline is currently the second largest in the world in terms of available seat kilometers.

3. Hawaiian
Total additional fees: $766
First checked bag: $25 mainland/$17 interisland
Book by phone: $25 mainland, $15 interisland
Unaccompanied minors: $100 mainland/$35 interisland

The costs of the additional fees for Hawaiian Airlines are very different depending on whether a person is flying interisland or between the islands and the U.S. mainland. For instance, there is only a $30 change fee for people flying interisland, but there is a $150 change fee for those flying between the islands and the mainland. For unaccompanied minors, the cost is just $35 interisland. But for an unaccompanied minor going to or from the mainland, that cost is $100.

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2. US Airways (NYSE: LCC)
Total additional fees: $795
First checked bag: $25
Book by phone: $25
Unaccompanied minors: $100 (nonstop only)

US Airways charges its customers nearly $800 in additional costs. While it charges just $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second checked bag, in line with most other major airlines, it charges $125 for each additional bag, more than any other airline except for Delta and American. The airline is one of the few that offers blankets and pillows, although the charge is $7. While US Airways reported strong earnings recently, there has been much speculation it would merge with American Airlines soon. The merger would create a larger airline that help the two carriers compete with larger rivals.

1. American
Total additional fees: $842
First checked bag: $25
Book by phone: $25
Unaccompanied minors: $100 (nonstop or direct)

American Airlines has more additional fees than any other domestic carrier. Checking a third bag costs $150, more than any other airline. Checking oversized bags costs $200, also more than any other airline. These high fees haven’t resulted in strong financial performance for AMR, the airline’s parent company. The company reported a loss of $1.9 billion in 2012 and almost $2 billion the year before. AMR filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2011 in order to restructure its high costs. The company’s leadership has repeatedly argued that expenses must be cut in order to remain competitive with other large carriers.

To see the full list, visit 24/7 Wall St.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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