TRAVEL


4 Aggravating Travel Fees to Avoid

Charges to check your bags. Let’s review the ugly details. Most airlines charge $25 to $40 to check your first and second bags on domestic flights. For a third and fourth bag, count on paying $100 to $200. And don’t even think about checking an overweight suitcase: In one gruesome example, a passenger flying on American Airlines between the U.S. and Japan would have to pay $900 round-trip to check a 71-pound bag.

SEE ALSO: How to Wipe Out Other Pesky Fees

Southwest allows two free bags, and JetBlue allows one. When you book with the Delta SkyMiles gold card from American Express ($95 annual fee, waived the first year), up to nine travelers on the same itinerary can each check one bag free on Delta flights. A $200 annual credit to cover airline fees is a perk with the American Express platinum card ($450 annual fee).

Other solutions: Ground-shipping a 60-pound bag from New York City to Miami via FedEx recently cost $51 versus $100 with an airline. Check out Jaktogo.com or Scottevest.com for vests that hold everything from passports to pajamas.

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Priority seating. On all domestic airlines, the choicest locations incur an extra charge of up to $50. At Spirit, even the least desirable back-row middle perch may cost you $10 or more. Friendly Planet Travel’s Peggy Goldman recommends arriving at the airport check-in a couple of hours before flight time and asking if any desirable seats are available. “Most airlines hold back as many as a third of their seats for airport check-ins,” she says.

Frequent-flier fees. Even flights earned with rewards points incur taxes, facility charges and security fees -- ranging from about $20 on cheap domestic itineraries to hundreds of dollars on international flights. Rush fees, incurred when you book your flight within a few weeks of takeoff, can run $25 to $75. Redepositing miles will nick you $25 to $150. The fees may be waived if you accumulate enough miles through flying and using a rewards card to qualify for an elite loyalty program.

Upgrade fee. To swap your economy seat for a first-class seat, you may have to pay, not just with frequent-flier miles but with cold, hard cash. This year, US Airways added a co-pay of up to $300 round-trip to upgrade domestic fares to first class. International upgrades on United can cost you miles plus up to $1,200 round-trip. The airline has caught flak for collecting the fee at the check-in counter, long after surprised travelers could have opted out. Some full-fare tickets, elite tickets and Delta upgrades avoid this fee. If your airline charges it, try upgrading at the gate instead of online; the agent may offer a better deal.

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