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How to Avoid Airline Fees

Cameron Huddleston

With the cost of checking bags (and everything else related to flying) on the rise, it pays to know what charges to expect and whether you can escape them.

Well, it happened again: Two airlines announced that they're increasing their fees. Starting this week, passengers on Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines will have to pay an extra $8 to check one bag and an extra $7 to check a second bag -- bringing the totals to $23 and $32, respectively, for those who pay the fees in advance online. If you wait until you get to the airport to pay the fees, expect to $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second.

Several airlines also have extended the $10 holiday surcharge to nearly 100 dates and increased the charge to $20 on ten popular travel dates, reports Stacy Rapacon in the February issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. See Smarter Travel's Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide for a comprehensive list.

So how do avoid all the fees and land a cheap airfare? For starters, consider flying Southwest Airlines, which doesn't have any holiday surcharges or baggage fees. If flying on this low-cost carrier isn't an option, book flights on less-traveled days and time your purchase right. For low-cost trips, look for regions of the world where local competition makes air travel inexpensive. See Fly for Less for more details on these tips.

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