airline fees

New airline fees for the new year


While a winter storm caused many airlines to issue travel change fee waivers this week, there are several new fees scheduled to take place in the new year. Here’s a sampling:

*United Airlines is raising the membership rates for the United Club. According to a notice on the United website:

“Effective January 1, 2013, United Club annual membership rates will increase by $25 and membership-with-spouse rates will increase by up to $100. Additionally, the three-year membership options will be discontinued. Current three-year memberships will be honored through their existing membership period.”

Beginning on January 15, 2013:

Alaska Airlines will no longer check bags through to a final destination when separate tickets are presented at check-in. This policy change affects passengers who start travel on Alaska Airlines, but continue on a separately purchased ticket on another airline. Alaska will continue to check bags for passengers traveling on a single ticket and connecting to one of our 59 interline airline partners.

Southwest Airlines has also rolled out some new fees for the new year:

The airline plans to begin charging a “no-show” fee to passengers who fail to cancel restricted ticket reservations and it has already raised baggage fees:

“Effective for tickets purchased on or after December 15, 2012, for travel on or after February 13, 2013, the 3rd checked bag and any bag thereafter is $75 per piece and the overweight and oversize baggage fee is $75 per piece. Large media camera equipment is $75 per item, and sporting equipment is $0-$75 per item.”

Before the change, the first and second checked bags were free and charge for the third (through the ninth) checked bag was $50. The overweight bag charge was also $50 and there was no charge for large media camera equipment. The fee for sporting equipment was $0-$50 per item.

Bag fees on Southwest subsidiary Air Tran have also gone up:

“1st and 2nd Checked Bag Fee
Effective for tickets purchased on or after December 15, 2012, for travel on or after February 13, 2013, first checked bag fee is $25 and second checked bag fee is $35 when bag fees apply.

Excess Baggage Fee
Effective for tickets purchased on or after December 15, 2012, for travel on or after February 13, 2013, the 3rd checked bag and any bag thereafter is $75 per piece.

Oversize and Overweight Baggage Fee
Effective for tickets purchased on or after December 15, 2012, for travel on or after February 13, 2013, overweight and oversize baggage fee is $75.”

No doubt there’s more to come….so start saving your pennies.

Spirit Airlines ups the ante: will charge $100 for carry-on bags

Spirit Airlines is being really mean-spirited now.

On Monday the airline announced that, beginning on November 6, passengers who wait until they get to the boarding gate to pay the airline’s fee for checking a piece of luggage or carrying it onto the airplane will pay $100 per bag.

Passengers can pay lower luggage fees by paying earlier in the process, such as online , on the phone or at an airline kiosk. but there’s no way around paying something to carry-on or check a piece of luggage.

Spirit is the airline that advertises really low fares but often surprises unsuspecting customers with hefty added fees for everything from seat assignments to onb0ard drinks.  Beginning October 31, 2012, the airline will also begin charging a $2 fee for printing a boarding pass at an airline kiosk. (Since January there’s been a $5 fee to have a boarding pass printed by an agent at the airport.)

Spirit claims that separating out these – and a plethora of other fees – “empowers customers to save money on air travel.” You decide.

Here’s the new chart of fees for baggage

For now passengers flying on a Spirit Airlines flight are not charged a fee for taking aboard one personal item that fits under the seat.

Tidbits for travelers: seat fees, bag check refunds & fast rail service to ORD.

Good news, bad news for air travelers today.

In the good file:

IND suitcase art

If you book a 2-night weekend stay (Fri/Sat/Sun) at a IHG hotel (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, , Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and others), and check a bag on your flight there, you can get a rebate for up to $50 of your bag check fees. There are restrictions of course – you need to pay with a Visa, stay between Sept 1 and Dec 30th,  and accept your refund in the form of an IHG Visa Prepaid Card – but it’s still a good offer.

Kimpton hotels have had a similar offer for a while. It’s We’ve got your bag program promises a $25 room credit if you show a receipt for a checked bag.

Also: Chicago’s mayor announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to study whether or not express train service between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago is a good idea.

Do they really need to study this? We say: just do it!  A lot of travelers would happily pay a premium over the current fare on the Blue Line to make it downtown in a hurry.

orange airplane seat

In the bad file: Joining the pack of other carriers, such as United, that will let you buy seats with extra legroom, American Airlines has announced a new fee today for what it calls “Express Seats:” the roomier seats in the first few rows of the coach cabin.

Pricing will be based on distance and range from $19 (i.e. St. Louis to Chicago) to $39 (Chicago to Honolulu) and the seats will be up for sale 50 minutes to 24 hours before a flight.  Buying one of those seats also allows you to board with Group 1.  Here’s their spin.

Changes galore in fees and service charges on Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air

Heads up, Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air customers.  A bunch of changes to the airlines’ fees and services were announced today.  The news is good and bad…

Here’s a rundown:

Effective for travel on or after June 16 for tickets purchased beginning May 1.

Checked bags and baggage service guarantee

It will cost you $20 for each of your first three checked bags. This is a $5 increase for the first checked bag, a $5 decrease for the second, and a $30 decrease for the third.

There’s also a change to the carriers baggage service guarantee.  Yes – there’s a service guarantee!

Instead of promising you they’ll get your bags to your within 25 minutes the airlines now promise to get bags to you within 20 minutes.  And if the bags don’t show up in 20 minutes they’ll either give you 2,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles or $20 off a future flight.

Unaccompanied minors

Alaska and Horizon are also lowering the fees for unaccompanied minors ages 5 to 12.

The new fees are $25 per child for direct flights and $50 per child for connecting flights.

This is a reduction from the current $75 fee, which applied to several children traveling together.

[Note: As of tomorrow, April 23, 2010, Southwest Airlines is raising its fares on unaccompanied minors; see news about this and other airlines’ unaccompanied minor fees in my column “Are Airlines Cashing in on your kids?”]

Same-day confirmed travel

If you want to change your flight within six hours of departure, it will cost $25 to confirm a seat.

Outside of that six-hour window, you must pay the difference in fare plus any applicable change fee. Until now, for a flight on the same calendar day it seems you could pay this $25 same-day confirmed fee or stand by for free.

Instant ticketing and refund policy

Effective May 12, you will no longer be able to hold reservations for 24 hours without payment when booking directly with the airlines, but you’ll get one free change or a full refund within 24 hours of purchase on all tickets.

For more details see the Alaska Airlines website.