10 Hidden Airline Fees You Need to Watch Out For


There is nothing more obnoxious than booking an already expensive flight and finding out that it’s going to cost you a bundle more than you originally thought because of obnoxious hidden fees. Take, for example, the fact that my father’s side of the family has a reunion every other summer in northern Texas on my grandmother’s farm. It’s out of the way, in the middle of nowhere, and the closest airport is either Amarillo or Lubbock; though both are several hours away from her home. Booking our tickets is expensive since her local airports are so small. Let me share with you that when we go to Hawaii we pay less per ticket per person that we pay per ticket per person when we go to Texas. And we live in Florida.

So imagine my surprise when I booked our flights through American Airlines only to pay $517 roundtrip per person – I have a family of 6, mind you. Upon choosing our seats, I realized that all seats must be paid for (something you can choose to do on other airlines) and that automatically raised the cost of each ticket another $100 (A PIECE) since we have a connection in Dallas. So for more than $600 per person, we still haven’t paid for airport parking, a giant rental car, to check our luggage, or to feed our family or pay for a hotel the entire long weekend. That, my friends, is just a bit ridiculous. And it’s because airlines get you wherever they can. So take it from me and learn to watch out for hidden fees. Just because one ticket might seem cheaper doesn’t mean it actually is by the time you’re finished paying for your flight details. Here are some of the most obnoxious hidden airline fees you should be careful to avoid.

Over the Phone Reservations

When you make a flight reservation, you expect to pay for the flight. You do not expect to pay a fee to pay for the flight. But that’s what happens when you book a flight over the phone or in person with many airlines. It’s a lot simpler to just pay for the flight online.


We all know that some airlines charge for luggage, but the fees are excessive. You should join airline reward programs to avoid paying for luggage in some situations. Some will let you take one bag free of charge and others will let you pay for your luggage in advance so that you don’t have to pay full price.

Flight Changes

The fee for changing your flight is often more expensive than the flight itself. For example, we once had to change our flight a few days to accommodate a changed meeting, and the cost to change the flight to the same flight that was actually less expensive was $300 more than we paid for our tickets.

Lap Children

Most of the time lap children are free of charge, but there has been some discrepancy in that as of late. Some airlines are now charging as much as 10% of the cost of airfare for lap children. The price is beyond ridiculous and more than a little annoying.


You know that you can pay for more expensive seats, but did you know that some airlines are charging more than necessary for certain seats? For example, you might fly certain airlines that make you pay for any seat on top of the ticket you purchased from them – which should, rightfully, include your seat.

Early Boarding

First of all, who wants to board a flight and sit idle longer than necessary? Some people do this for ample storage space overhead, but I don’t bother. And for good reason, too. You have to pay additional to board early, and it’s a little bit ridiculous. You get to sit down before everyone else and wait while they board. Or you could sit at the airport bar, finish a decent glass of wine and sit down just in time to take off. It’s really up to you, though. Don’t let us pressure you into choosing something you don’t want to do on your next flight just to save money.

Bigger Seats

If you would like to fly with a bit more leg room, you can pay a hefty fee to do that. Some airlines allow you to choose rows with slightly more leg room so that you can have a bit more space, and the concept is just a bit ridiculous. If you need a bit more legroom, you can have it for a fee of around $50 depending on the airline you choose to fly.

Carry On Bags

Now airlines are not satisfied just charging passengers for their checked luggage. Some are charging passengers for their carry-on luggage, too. While some airlines don’t, some do, and some charge based on the type of carry-on you choose to bring on board a flight. It’s a bit of an excessive decision, and it’s something that you should watch out for.

Pillows and Blankets

We all know these are not free anymore, but it does seem a bit silly to pay for these things when you can bring your own. A simple neck pillow in the airport might even be a better solution than the thing you can buy on the flight, since it’s something a bit better made and will travel with you for a lot longer than anything else you might choose.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

We all know you have to pay an exorbitant fee for that cheap wine, but did you know that you now have to pay for drinks that used to be completely free? That’s right, you have to pay for once free coffee, soda and other items on your flight, and sometimes the price is not exactly affordable. And you have to watch out that your flight accepts cash or credit. Some accept one and not the other, and it’s not easy to find an ATM aboard a plane.

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images


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