Midday Report: Airlines Hike Up Added Fees, Just in Time for Summer

It's time to plan your summer vacation, but check the fine print before you book a flight: That big, exciting trip across the country or overseas could carry surprising costs and added fees imposed by the airline.

Most of the major carriers have added an extra $50 if you change your reservation. It's now $200 at United (UAL), Delta (DAL), US Airways (LCC), and most recently, American (AAMRQ).

The change affects most domestic flights as well as travel to Canada and Mexico. The fee for changing some overseas flights is now $300.

stowing luggage on a plane
Getty Images
The airlines say they are targeting business travelers, not people taking vacations. They say people taking business trips are much more likely to change their travel plans.

The industry maintains that charging business customers more allows airlines to offer cheaper seats to vacationers.

Southwest (LUV) remains a holdout. In fact, it might want to resurrect its old ad campaigns that mocked competitors for charging reservation change fees.

However, last week Southwest said people who fail to show up for their flight will forfeit their fare.

Southwest maintains its 'bags fly free' policy, but get this: Frontier Airlines (RJET) says it will soon charge as much as $100 for a carry-on.

The discount carrier's new fee is for bags that don't fit under the seat. So it's $100 if you get to the airport and find out your carry-on needs to go in the overhead bin, but $25 if you pay in advance.

And there is a way around this fee: Book directly on Frontier's website and carry-ons remain free. The airline apparently doesn't want to pay fees to Orbitz, Expedia and other travel sites.

But Spirit (SAVE) also found another way to nickel and dime its passengers. It plans to start charging $2 for coffee and soda.

Even if you're able to avoid the fees and add-ons, you're likely to find basic airfares are sharply higher than they were over the past few years –- in some cases 40 to 50 percent higher.

Partly this is because of rising demand. But industry consolidation –- i.e. mergers –- has a lot to do with it too.

In recent years, United has merged with Continental, Delta with Northwest, Southwest with Airtran, and most recently, US Airways with American. And that has reduced competition on certain well-traveled routes such as Chicago to Houston and Philadelphia to Miami.

So enjoy your summer vacation, but plan carefully.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg

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aaaaand just in time 4 summer ?
don't the FUEL PRICES GO UP ???????

May 05 2013 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 02 2013 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

more and more reasons why i don't travel anymore by air.

May 02 2013 at 11:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kennethpm's comment

Yes, who can afford to fly these days? They hit you with everything and anything that they can.

May 03 2013 at 3:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why do people fly spirit Airlines anyway. What's next? Charging for the air you breathe. This is allour fault all we have to do is protest by not flying on that airline and these fees will change

May 02 2013 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

easy to say. As a sinigle woman wno travels to meet friends across the country. Then if something happens to me you all say I deseved it why was I driving alone

May 02 2013 at 10:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I would be happy to check my bags instead of carry them on board. But I know my computer, camer'a, lens would be stolen. Once the air lineis can promise my stuff will be safe I will be haooy to check it

May 02 2013 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have travelled quite a bit in the last 12 months (nationally and internationally) and people schlepping bags, etc onto aircraft with the gall of cramming items in overhead bins or under seats is tiresome and they should be charged for this.
Check your bags~! Don't hold everyone else up~! Or pay the consequences~!

May 02 2013 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marcia's comment

LOL as WE'VE BEEN doing this for decades and prior to 911 ?
how MUCH we schlepped onboard !

May 05 2013 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If they keep this up americans might just start looking at packing the car and take those family vacations like they used. When i moved from Seattle to Florida i drove across the country and visited places and sites like the Grand Canyon and i was amazed and wowed about what i been missing. This country is so beautiful and seeing it from the air is nothing. Me and my dog are planning on going back to Seattle to visit this summer and we are going to drive and see more of what we been missing. Screw the airlines.

May 02 2013 at 8:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Spirit is the worst. You are better off walking where you need to go than to fly spirit. Thye charge for water on board, planes are filthy, they hawk their credit card in the waiting area until you board and their CEO is a jerk!!

May 02 2013 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

screw the airlines

May 02 2013 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply