Airlines Charging the Highest Fees

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10. Virgin America
> Total additional fees: $447
> First checked bag: $25
> Book by phone: $20
> Unaccompanied minors: $75 – $100 (nonstop only)

Virgin America, an airline that began service in the U.S. just over five years ago, has a mixed record with fees. Each checked bag costs passengers just $25, which amounts to significantly less than most airlines for passengers with many bags. It is also among just a few airlines that doesn’t charge customers to book a flight in-person. Yet its fees are high in other instances. In order to gain access to more legroom in the airplane’s main cabin, flyers will have to cough up a minimum of $39 and up to $129, more than any other airline offering such a service. Although the company’s frequent flyer program is based on dollars spent rather than miles accrued, it is only on the base fare without the extra fees.

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9. Airtran
> Total additional fees: $460
> First checked bag: $25
> Book by phone: $15
> Unaccompanied minors: $50 (nonstop or direct only)

Southwest Airlines, the parent company of Airtran, announced that it will be raising several Airtran fees in 2013, but didn’t specify which yet. Even before these increases Airtran’s fee structure was not as generous as the parent company’s flagship brand. For instance, although Southwest doesn’t charge any change fees, Airtran charges $75 to change a flight in advance and $25 if it is a same-day flight change. While Southwest doesn’t charge booking fees, Airtran charges $15 for booking over the phone. And unlike Southwest’s “bags fly free” policy, Airtran charges $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second.

8. JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU)
> Total additional fees: $525
> First checked bag: $0
> Book by phone: $20
> Unaccompanied minors: $100 (nonstop only)

JetBlue is considered a low-cost carrier that competes with airlines such as Airtran, Spirit and Southwest. Along with Southwest, JetBlue is the only other airline that does not charge a fee for the first checked bag. However, the company charges $40 for the second bag, more than any other airline in the U.S. except for Spirit. Fortunately for larger passengers, the armrests are 17.8” apart compared to the standard 17”. However, those who cannot fit between the seats have to purchase a second seat with no refunds even if the flight is not full. This differs from most airlines where a refund is usually granted if a flight had extra seats.

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.