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Forbes Traveler Names Most Annoying Airline Fees

One word that can be used to describe the airlines these days: predictable. We may not know what fees will pop up next, we just know they're coming. Forbes Traveler developed a list of what it considers the top 10 most annoying airline fees, and I for one find the checked baggage fee to be the most annoying of all even if it isn't the most expensive.

  1. Checked Baggage, $10-$100: American Airlines will charge $15 for the first checked bag starting June 15, and a as of June 10 Spirit customers will pay $5 to $10 each way for the first two bags and $100 for each item thereafter.
  2. Talking to Real People, $10-$25: Booking through airline representatives costs $25 with Delta, $20 with American Airlines, and US Airways and JetBlue charge $15.
  3. Seat Preference, $10-$20: "Several American carriers now charge for seat preference within the coach section. United Airlines' Economy Plus plan is unique: For a $349 annual fee, one member and his or her companion are seated at the front of economy section whenever possible."
  4. Rewards Redemption, $75-$100: "Legacy airline travelers must shell out $75 if miles are redeemed without "sufficient notice"—considered three days on Continental and 21 days on Delta; American charges $100 if miles are redeemed for a flight sooner than six days away."
  5. Curbside Check-In, $2-$3 or more: "The charges have cut into some of the tips travelers leave for the workers."

There are five more annoying fees so


  1. Traveling with a Child or a Pet, $10-$100 and up: Fees have increased for unaccompanied minors and small carry-on pets.
  2. Changing a Reservation, $30-$200: "United Airlines has hiked its ticket-changing charge from $100 to $150."
  3. Paper Ticket, $50-$70: Delta and American Airlines charge $50 if customers want a physical copy of their ticket instead of an e-ticket.
  4. Airport Improvement, $4.50-$20 or more: "It has a number of names—facility upgrade fee, airport tax, embarkation fee—but the airport-improvement fee has one short-term impact: It makes your ticket more expensive."
  5. Fuel Surcharge, $30-$300: "Fuel now accounts for 40 percent of a ticket's price, and surcharges are regularly $65 each way on most major carriers."


Join The Conversation
charlesgoodwin charlesgoodwin 9 years
Great information! is a great site to compare 25 different extra airline fees and flight prices from top sites at the same time.
Kelly-O Kelly-O 9 years
Minday, you clearly don't have children, or have to worry about sending an unaccompanied minor to and from her mom's house. Yes, when children scream it's annoying. So is the guy who talks on his phone until the last possible minute, or the person who kicks their seat all the way back, crunching you in from the front, or the person next to you who eats Funyuns on the flight. We've cut out all our recreational flying. As gas prices have gone up, we've cut down on recreational driving too. It's the choice we're willing to make, but flying is just too expensive, even for two adults. The only flights we do are for my stepdaughter, when traveling by car to pick her up is not possible in the time we have available.
SDTransplant SDTransplant 9 years
I think the checked in bag policy is the most ridiculous of all too, but the one to charge $50-$70 for a PAPER ticket ranks pretty high too.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Fees are such a hassle. They should really just increase the ticket price. It would make things a lot easier.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
These are ridiculous. I can't believe some airlines would charge so much more for physical tickets! The price for bringing a small pet on board is really frustrating to me since I'm moving to Boston and want to bring my dog with me. Granted, I have never brought Benny on a plane so I can't refute or agree with MindayH's comment about bringing dogs, but this makes it a lot harder. I definitely hear horror stories about leaving your dog in the cargo area of the plane, but paying $100 each way to bring your pet on board (times how many times you'll take flights a year!) is kind of ludicrous too.
sundrops sundrops 9 years
Sounds like Southwest is the way to fly these days.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i just traveled this weekend and i have to admit that i was a bit ANNOYED at some of the fees. the line inside was really long at the airport so we decided to check in curbside, and found out that had we selected the # of bags online, it would have been free - but instead it was $3 per bag. THEN we found that we could only check 1 bag each for free when we have always been able to do 2 - and if we checked the 2nd bag it was like $25 or something. it's just too much money that we have to shell out now becuase of the rising gas and all these new fees. i had to take all my liquids out of my bag and put them into my boyfriend's bag so he could check 1 and i checked 1 of his and then took my own bag on the plane.....what a HASSLE.. we're not made out of money airlines!
MindayH MindayH 9 years
ridiculous. Although I have no problem hiking up the child and pet fee. I was recently on a flight and we missed our takeoff time because some rodent looking dog escaped from its carrier - 3 people on the flight missed connections. Screaming children make flying even more annoying than it already is - go ahead and charge more for 'em!
gigill gigill 9 years
Most of the budget airline carriers here in Europe charge per bag, so I'm not surprised to see the trend heading stateside.
verily verily 9 years
It's insane how expensive it's getting to fly. I might have to consider driving to my grandparents this year instead and that's a 26 hour venture!
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
It makes you think five times before booking a trip. This can make anyone miserable.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
This gets me into a rage. What is it going to take for this madness to stop? Even if fuel prices go down, I doubt the airlines will just magically take away these higher fees.
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