Travel resources start exposing airline fees

We’ve covered sneaky airlines fees in the past, and as airlines learn the tricks to adding more and more fees to your trip, some online resources are starting to fight back.

In the past, your ticket would consist of a base price, with some airport taxes, and a 9/11 security fee. Then airlines started whining about rising gas prices, so they added fuel surcharges. Then when gas prices went down again, they conveniently forgot to remove the fuel surcharge.

What we are left with nowadays is ticket prices where up to 65% of the fare is actually for fees, taxes, surcharges and other additional stuff.

The worst part of all these fees is that it is often impossible to get a clear picture what you are paying for. Your e-ticket will usually only show some cryptic codes, and most third party booking sites don’t let you view a price breakdown at all.

Then, to make matters worse, some airlines have started adding fees for things that used to be free – checked baggage, snacks, drinks and even preferred seating.

The tide is turning though – and several online services are helping you battle fee creep. The first of these services is, where you can find the add-on fees for most major US airlines, and several foreign carriers.

The site is pretty smart, and even lets you find the cheapest carrier sorted by additional fees. In addition to the basic fees, you’ll also find an overview of virtually every other fee airlines have come up with, including “telephone booking fees”, “ticket change fees” and even the price of a snack or headset once on board. It isn’t the prettiest site, but it is an extremely comprehensive resource.

The next new resource is TripAdvisor – they have been around for several years, but recently added airline price searches. In addition to showing the cheapest airline, they also claim to be the first to show exactly what your flight will cost, but I did not really find any fee information I couldn’t find on any of the other booking resources.

Bottom line is to do your homework before booking your ticket. It makes no sense to save $50 on your ticket, only to be charged $100 for checking a couple of bags.