Base Fare vs Taxes & Fees

Tracy Stewart, May 20, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q.  Would it be possible to mention/list the actual fees, taxes, etc that will be added on to a so-called low fare? They often amount to many times the stated ticket price, especially for international travel!

    A. The fees and taxes for foreign travel can be especially daunting, which is why we almost always include taxes and fees for our international fares. Plus, the information is more readily available to us than for the domestic fares that we find (and of course, we note it right after the price that taxes and fees are included and we note it on the Fare Details page for you too!)  If we don't note that taxes and fees are included, you can safely assume that they are not.

    The main reason why it's difficult to include taxes and fees is that they are so variable.  It's much less time consuming to list the base price, which is common practice.  (After all, even when you go to a retail store, a restaurant or shop online, the taxes and delivery fees are added in when you make your purchase.)

    Some of the variables include:

     A federal segment fee for each takeoff.  So depending on whether you choose a non-stop or a connecting flight, the fee will change.  The number of connections changes this fee as well.

    Facility fees charged by the airports.  These vary depending on the specific airports that are included in your itinerary.  And again, the more connections, the more fees.

    The TSA charges a security fee and that varies depending on the airport.

    The airline itself can charge fees, including a fuel surcharge.  Theoretically, you're supposed to see this in the base price, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this not always the case.