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8 Ridiculous Flying Fees and How to Avoid Them

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    Get Savvy

    En español | Extra fees for flying are here to stay, but if you follow our tips and do a little comparison shopping before your trip, you can save yourself money and aggravation.

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    Surcharges for Human Contact

    Most airlines now charge anywhere from $10 to $35 if you buy your ticket on the phone or at the airport, so shop online. If you do need to speak to a representative, try to negotiate the price, ask about discounts and request an e-ticket to bypass a surcharge (up to $75) for a paper ticket.

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    Carry-On Charges

    Fees can be steep on airlines that charge, ranging from $10 to $40 at the time of online booking and up to $100 at the counter or gate. For now, under-the-seat carry-ons are still free, although dimensions vary, so check with the airline. A bag that’s 17 x 14 x 9 inches should be safe.

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    Priority-Boarding Fees

    Fees range from $4 to $40. Because most airlines now offer some type of priority boarding, you will have to decide whether to pay the fee to help ensure you’re aboard soon enough to find space in an overhead compartment — or risk having your carry-on checked at the gate.

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    Checked-Baggage Fees

    The number of airlines that check bags for free is dwindling. If you’re traveling in the U.S., consider sending your bags ahead via the U.S. Postal Service. This takes time and planning but can save you money and frustration. It also allows you to insure your luggage and track its progress.

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    Fees for the Best Economy Seats

    Some airlines charge up to $199 extra for bulkhead seats. For a free chance at extra legroom, choose an airline that doesn’t charge, and go online at exactly the right time (generally 24 hours before departure) to choose your seat. You can also find out which seats on any plane are roomier by checking seatguru.com.

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    Fees to Cash In Loyalty Reward Miles

    We all thought that if we were “loyal” and flew exclusively on one airline, our accumulated miles would give us a “free” trip. Wrong. Now some airlines charge you for cashing in your miles. So be loyal to airlines that don’t do this, such as JetBlue and Southwest.

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    Charges for Earlier Same-Day Flights

    In the old days, if when you got to the airport your airline had a seat on an earlier flight to your destination, the airline would put you on that flight for free. Today you almost always pay at least $25. Either fly Southwest or stick to your confirmed flight.

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    Fees for Food, Comfort and Entertainment

    Don’t take a blanket or pillow for granted anymore — or even a free cup of coffee. A “sleep set” may run you $10, and you’ll likely be charged for movies and Wi-Fi. So toss a travel blanket and pillow along with a good read into your under-the-seat carry-on, purchase your favorite snack in the terminal and enjoy your flight!

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    Also of Interest

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