In this report
Best ways to reduce fees

Best ways to become a fee fighter

Last reviewed: June 2010

Airline nickel-and-diming has become rampant. In fact, the Big Five—American, Continental, Delta, United, and US Airways—will together generate $117 million annually in baggage fees alone. Here's how to reduce such fees:

Book online

Most U.S. airlines don't charge for Web bookings but impose fees up to $35 for telephone reservations and $45 for ticket-counter purchases; Southwest is alone in not charging for any booking channel. Allegiant ($14 per booking) and Spirit ($4.90 each direction) charge for online reservations.

Read the fine print

Those "no fees" claims from third-party travel sites contain caveats, such as fees for multiple-airline itineraries, international flights, and package deals.

Brown-bag it

Most airlines now charge you for snacks and meals in economy class. So pack your own food to make sure the whiffs of chicken cordon bleu from first class don't drive you crazy.

Take it onboard

If possible, pack only a carry-on bag because fees for checked bags keep rising and expanding.

Do the math

Before booking, make sure you've added up all taxes and fees so that there are no surprises.

Charge it

For travel purchases, always use a charge card for protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act.