Avoiding excess fees when flying
CHRIS A RUSNAK
SUMMER IS RIGHT around the corner, which
means many people will be flying somewhere on
vacation. As airlines have adapted to economic
trends, additional fees continue to grow more intrusive. Many travelers are not even aware of these
extra fees until they are charged at the gate or have
already boarded the flight. However, if you understand these fees before getting to the airport, you
can properly strategize. Here are some common fees
that airlines are charging, and tips on how to make
smart spending decisions when you fly.
Baggage fees. Across the airlines, extra baggage fees can make flying with luggage a real challenge. Most allow one or two carry-on bags.
However, extra fees—$15, $20 or more—are often
applied to each bag you check in (prices differ from
airline to airline). Most airlines allow you to check
in two paid bags and apply additional charges for a
third. They also usually impose a weight limit on
individual pieces of luggage, often around 50
pounds. Most airlines include a detailed fee chart on
Clearly, the less luggage you need the better, but
research the requirements before showing up at the
airport so you are not caught unprepared for excess
fees. If you plan on taking large items, such as skis,
golf clubs or surfboards, find out if you can rent
these items once you arrive at your destination, as it
may be significantly cheaper.
Food and beverage. If you get hungry or
thirsty when flying, be prepared to spend extra
money. Gone are the days when free peanuts rested
on your seat upon boarding. Although most airlines
still have complimentary beverage service, food
costs substantially more on a flight than in a store.
The same is true for food sold in gift shops and restaurants in the terminal.
Buy snack food such as sandwiches, fruit and
nuts before you even get to the airport. Bring an
empty water bottle and fill it from the drinking
fountain at the airport after you are through security
(filled bottles are not allowed through the security
checkpoints). Then you can bring your own food
and water onto the plane and avoid in-flight meal fees.
I paid a contractor to build a
pool in the backyard of my
new home. The pool was
built, but there were cracks in
the wall. An inspector came
by and said that the pool is
not up to code and it needs to
be rebuilt or I will face a
violation. What can I do?
San Diego, CA
Selecting your seat. There are significant
differences between bulkhead, window, center and
aisle seats. For most travelers, seat selection is of the
utmost importance and rates very high on their
checklists when preparing to fly. But keep in mind
you may encounter extra fees when selecting a seat.
You might buy your tickets online, as this provides the opportunity to shop for bargains. Often
these websites give you the option of selecting seats
at the time of purchase. Read closely, as an extra fee
may be associated with this service; it could be more
cost-effective to just wait until check-in.
When selecting a seat, first decide what you
want in regard to basic comfort and leg room. If you
are willing to pay extra for a better seat, decide just
how much you are willing to pay. If there is an extra
fee for seat selection at the time of booking, call the
airline directly and inquire about their policy. Make
sure to request an upgrade at the gate in case a better
seat is available.
The contractor is responsible
for a job that is not up to
code. First, you may want to
get the opinion of another
contractor and ;nd out how
much repairs should cost and
what they would entail. Once
you have this information,
make the original contractor
;x his mistakes and repair
the damage in a way
that is acceptable
to you. Do not pay
money, and write
a contract that
needs to be
done in a time
frame that is
acceptable to you.
If the contractor refuses
to comply, the next step
is small claims court.
Make sure you have all
of your documentation,
including the original
contracts and the written
testimony of an indepen-
dent contractor who can
verify that the work was
done incorrectly. C
In-flight entertainment. If you choose to watch an in-flight movie, be prepared to slide your credit or debit card for the privilege. Nowadays, many airlines charge extra for headphones, and typically charge about $8 or so to watch an in-flight movie. If you travel frequently, you may want to invest in a small, portable DVD player that you can use on the flight. You can also bring your laptop on the plane or use a handheld device, such as an iPad, to watch a movie while flying. Air travel is often the pre- ferred method of transporta- tion for reaching a vacation destination. Airlines know this, and they make a significant profit on extra fees. Know these fees ahead of time, be smart and plan accordingly so you do not spend too much money while flying. C
© 2012 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate. Visit his blog at www.
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