How Airlines Are Lying About the Real Cost of Flights

Don't be fooled—that super cheap airfare might not be so cheap after all.

Miniature people : business team sitting on airplane wing for travel around the world, using as business trip traveler adviser agency or explorer on earth background concept.Khongtham/Shutterstock

If that $50 round-trip flight to Miami seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s because many airlines have started promising cheap flight prices without telling passengers about all of the extra costs that aren’t included. To help you fly frugally, we asked Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, to share some of the most common hidden fees—and how you can avoid them. You can also save some dough by booking flights on the cheapest days to fly in 2019.

  • Seat selection fees: Whether you want a window seat or want to sit together as a family, you may have to pay extra for that choice. “While some budget airlines like Norwegian have been charging passengers more than $40 to choose their seats, as of December 2018, major United States carriers like Delta, American, and United were charging for seat selection for preferred seats; costs started at $9 per passenger,” Zillmer explains. No matter how seasoned you are at traveling, you might struggle to handle these long-haul flights. 
  • Baggage fees: Most people know that for the majority of airlines, checked bags cost extra. But Zillmer warns, “Some airlines are introducing new classes like ‘basic economy,’ providing passengers with the option to pay less for a flight ticket if they forgo having a carry-on.” He recommends doing your research ahead of time (as baggage fees and size requirements vary from airline to airline) and weighing your bags before you head to the airport to avoid oversized luggage charges. Make sure you’re also aware of these popular travel tips that are no longer true.
  • Food and drink fees: While longer flights are often required to provide a free meal, don’t assume that drinks and snacks will be complimentary. Zillmer advises passengers to purchase food or beverages in the airport before you board as in-flight prices are often more expensive. Just remember not to buy your beverages until you get through security.
  • Booking fees: How and where you buy your airfare could actually affect the price. Booking online is typically free; however, many airlines charge a convenience fee for flights purchased over the phone or in person. Believe it or not, these things will actually be cheaper in 2020.

You’ll also want to check out these 16 tips before you hit “book.”

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