Live

Watch CBSN Live

How to Steer Clear of Airline Fees

Airfares are at their lowest levels in years. That means airlines are trying to find new ways to make money. But how?

CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg explained airlines are now adding numerous additional fees to the initial ticket price. Last year, he remarked, more than $1 billion was generated from fees alone, according to the Department of Transportation.

But where are those fees cropping up?

Greenberg pointed the most recent fees below.

Trending News

THE MOST RECENT CHARGES:

Holiday Travel Fee:
American, United, Delta and U.S. Airways added $10 surcharges for travel on November 29 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving) as well as January 2 and 3 (the weekend after New Year).

Seat Fees:
British Airways -- Will charge economy-cabin passengers traveling to reserve seats up to 24 hours before departure. This doesn't apply to Gold and Silver Executive Club members, first-class passengers, customers with special needs, those traveling with infants, or those with a fully flexible ticket booked in J/C/W/Y booking classes. Fees are per person, per sector from £10 ($15) for coach seats, £20 ($30) for Club Europe, World Traveler and World Traveler Plus. The worst is that Club World business-class travelers have to pay £60 ($90).

United -- Economy Plus seats available for $9-$119 per flight. Or, the Economy Plus annual option for $349 a year.

Spirit -- $20 exit row, $12 aisle/window, $7 middle

US Airways -- $5-$30 aisle/window, front of economy

Check Bag Fee:
Now almost all major U.S. carriers -- with Southwest being an exception for the time being -- are charging to check bags for most passengers (Elite High Mileage customers are exempt).

However, United has just announced United's Premier Baggage is currently available for $249 a year, which allows a customer to check two standard bags without paying extra. The subscription fee covers baggage charges for up to eight people traveling on the same confirmation number. This applies to United or United Express, both domestic and international flights. It does not cover overweight or oversized bags. Mileage Plus Premier members are exempt from first and second bag fees on standard bags. On domestic flights, the airline normally charges $20 for the first checked bag and $30 for the second. Also, United won't confirm when this "introductory" price will go up, or by how much.

Unaccompanied Minor Fee
Sending a child under 12 on a flight? Those "unaccompanied minor" fees have skyrocketed. Most airlines charge a fee to parents who send their children on a flight alone. American Airlines charges $100 for the service. Delta charges $100, while JetBlue Airways Corp. wants $75 and Southwest Airlines Co. charges $25. in many cases, that's per leg/segment, not per trip. It can add up.

Pet Fee:
Your dog or cat can travel with you in your cabin, but it will cost you. You'll pay even more on some airlines if you check your pet to travel in the belly of the plane with the checked luggage. Delta Air Lines Inc., for instance, charges $100 one-way for your pet to travel in the cabin or $175 for your pet to be checked on a flight within the U.S. On Delta, pets permitted in the cabin include dogs, cats, and household birds.

Frequent-Flier Mile Redemption Fee:
American, Continental, US Airways, and United are now charging to redeem frequent-flier miles, ranging from $25 domestic all the way up to $600 international.

Phone Reservation Fee:
Delta and United raised the fee of talking to a human being from $10 to $25.

Boarding Fees:
Southwest added a $10 fee for passengers who want to board first (and get the best seats).

Duffel Bag Fee:
On AirTran, it doesn't just matter how much your bag weighs, it's how big it is, no matter how heavy or light. If the bag is measured at over 70 inches in length, the carrier will charge you $79 on top of the checked bag fee.

Pillow and Blanket Fee:
JetBlue charges $7 for a pillow and fleece blanket set, which is available on all flights over two hours. US Airways charges $7 for a kit that includes a fleece blanket, an inflatable neck pillow, eye shades and earplugs.

Ticket Change Fees:
Often more expensive than the ticket itself, if you want to change the day of your flight after you book it, you could be forking over $150.

How to Avoid the Fees

• Pack lighter and courier your bags-UPS and FedEx ground is often cheaper on a door to door basis than paying the airline to check your bags, and involves a whole lot less time, energy, and stress on your part.

• If sending an unaccompanied minor, try to book the child on nonstop flights. Each connection will cost you extra.

• Learn the standby rules. If you're not changing your flight date and only your flight times, in many cases you can avoid the ticket change fee by standing by for another flight on the same date.

• Beat the airlines at their own game, playing by their rules. If you have a bag you want to check, but think it will fit in the conveyor belt at security, try it. If it's too big when you get to the gate, many airlines will gate check it for you at no charge.

View CBS News In