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Airline Fee Charts

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, November 19, 2009


Here we list some of the various fees that airlines use to line their coffers while they continue to keep many airfares ridiculously low. These fees are subject to change and you should always contact the airline directly before planning a trip to be absolutely certain what they'll be charging you. We do our best to keep these charts up to date; please leave us a comment below if you believe something isn't quite right! And thanks.

Frequent Flyer Fees

It used to be that free frequent flyer tickets were really free. But not anymore. Not only are airlines increasing the number of miles required, but they're constantly adding new fees for issuing tickets, changing them, not using them, requesting them on short notice, and flying confirmed same day stand by.

As usual, the airline with the fewest fees in this regard is Southwest. Southwest issues frequent flyer awards as soon as you earn them and you have up to a year to use the award. If an award has expired, you can pay $50 to extend its validity up to one additional year as long as the award isn't more than one year past its original validity.

In addition to the fees listed here, you can expect to pay taxes, passenger facility charges, and the September 11 security fee, along with other government imposed surcharges. And if you're flying internationally with a child age 2 or under, even if it's sitting in your lap, you may be hit with a charge of 10% of your fare plus even fuel surcharges, and that's even if you're traveling on a "free" ticket (on a business class ticket to Australia, that might make you think twice about flying "free").

Fees listed were accurate at time of posting but can change at any moment, and probably will. Please comment if you believe that you've found a change or inaccuracy (or just to vent) and we'll check it out.

Keep in mind, too, that depending on your frequent flyer membership level, some of these fees may not apply to you, or they may be lower than shown. Updated June 5, 2010.

 Airline Program
Standard Processing fee Phone or in person fee "Close in" Processing fee Redeposit/
Change fee
Confirmed same day standby  
AirTran A+ Rewards (888-898-4782) $0 $10 otherwise $0 $60 N/A  
Alaska Mileage Plan (800-252-7522) $25 on partner airlines  $15 for reservations over the phone (mileage
award levels are the same over the phone and on the internet)

$0 if canceled or changed within 24 hours
from booking.

 Otherwise $100 each time a change is made on Super Saver and
Choice awards.

 Change fee does not apply to Full Flex award in Coach and First

Standby is allowed on the same day of travel at the airport ticket counter
only on both the outbound and return portion of a ticket.

Standby is also permitted on one way awards.

American AAdvantage
$25 if booked on partner airlines; Up to $100 RT to upgrade awards on most discounted domestic fares, $300 RT upgrade copay to Hawaii; up to $700 RT  for foreign routes $20 by phone, $30 in person 20 to 7 days prior: $50; 6 days to 2 hours: $100 Redeposit: $150 for first ticket, $25 each for additional tickets on same account; Change: $150 (MileSAAver tickets only; no fee if only date or time is changed) $50  
Continental OnePass
$0 (up to $300 RT for non elites to upgrade to domestic first; up to $1000 to upgrade to international businessElite) $25 by phone (airport booking not allowed) 20 days or fewer prior: $75 (less for Platinum) $50 $150 ($0 for Platinum) Not allowed on OnePass tickets  
Delta SkyMiles


additional $25 for partner airline award

$25 $20 8-20 days prior: free; 4-7 days: free; 3 or fewer days: free
Changes: $100; Redeposit: $150; most fees waived for Platinum members $50 (waived for Gold/Platinum)  
Frontier Early Returns (866-263-2759) $25 $0 $25  14 days or fewer: $75 $0 $75 Passenger pays  the difference between their original ticket and the new ticket at its price that day  
JetBlue TrueBlue (800- 538-2583) $0 (N/A award sent automatically when earned) $10 by phone N/A Change: $100; Redeposit fee: N/A (unused awards are forfeited) $40  
Southwest Rapid Rewards (800-435-9792) N/A (reward sent automatically N/A (reward sent automatically) N/A $0 $0 (if fare has increased, passenger must pay difference)  
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit N/A (online only) N/A (online only) N/A (requests must be made at least 7 days prior to travel); Mileage discounts for tickets booked 21 or more days in advance of travel Redeposit: $70; Change: $70 if more than 7 days from departure; not permitted within 7 days N/A
United MileagePlus (800-421-4655) $0 (eff. July 1, 2009, Jan 12, 2010, up to $50 from most discounted fares to upgrade on domestic routes; up to $1000 RT on international routes)  $25 by phone, $30 in person

Free as of July 30, 2009!

Under 6 days: $100; 7-20 days: $75


$150 (route change, connection point change, or redeposit); No charge to change date or flight number on same date, same routing) Domestic: $150; International $150-$250  
US Airways Dividend Miles (800-428-4322) $0 ($600 RT copay plus miles to upgrade on international routes)
$30 domestic, $40 international $50 online ($75 effect. Oct 8, 2009), $75 otherwise $150 domestic, $250 international $25  
Virgin America elevate (877.359.8474) $0 Redeposit: not allowed  $75  N/A


Checked Bag Fees

Here we list, airline by airline, fees for checked bags on major US airlines. These fees are for domestic economy class travel (which in some cases includes Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Canada) only and may be higher on international flights. 

There are all kinds of exceptions to these fees, especially for certain classes of frequent flyers and military personnel. These fees are cumulative and are double for round-trip travel. They are subject to change and were accurate to the best of our knowledge as of Jan. 22, 2010.

If you're a heavy packer, you'll want to fly with Airtran, Alaska, Frontier and Southwest, even if there's a cheaper fare on another ailrine.

See also: shipping services (FedEx, UPS, etc) vs. the airlines.



First checked bag
Second checked bag
Additional bags
Overweight bags
Oversized bags
Airtran  $0 $15  $10 paid online, $20 at airport $25

 51-70 lbs (23-32kgs): $29 $39

71 to 99 lbs: $69 $79

62-70 total linear inches: $29 $39; 71-80 inches $69 $79
Alaska  $15; ($20 effective Jun 16, 2010)
 $25 ($20 effective June 16, 2010)
3rd bag $20;4 or more $50
51-100 lbs: $50  63-80 inches: $50; 81-115 inches: $75
American  $25  $35 for tickets bought after Feb 1 ($25 to/from Canada; $50 for travel trans-Atlantic)
Bags 3-5: $100; 6th or more: $200 51-70 lbs (23-32kgs): $50; 71-100 lbs: $100. These fees may be higher on international routes 63 inches and over: $150
Continental  $23 ($2 more if not paid online)   $32 ($3 more if not paid online) $50 for trans-Atlantic ($45 if paid online)  $75 nonstop/$100 connecting 51-70 lbs (23-32kgs): $50
Over 70 lbs not accepted.
63 inches and over: $100
Delta  $23 ($2 more if not paid online)  $32 ($3 more if not paid online); $50 for travel to Europe Third bag: $125; Bags 4 to 10 $200 each (For travel outside US, no fee for 2nd bag, $200 for 3rd bag,  $350 for 4th and 5th, $600 for bags 6-10). 51-70 lbs (23-32kgs): $90 ($150 for travel outside US)
71 to 100 lbs: $175 ($300 each outside US)
 63-80 total linear inches: $150 $175
Frontier  $0 $15 $20  $25 $30  $50 51-100 lbs:    $75 63-80 inches: $75 
JetBlue  $0  $20  $75 51-70 lbs: $50; 71-99 lbs: $100 63-80 inches: $75
Spirit $19 online/$25 at airport; plus $20-$45 for carryon bags that don't fit under the seat
$25 (online or at airport) Bags 3-5: $100 (online or at airport) 51-70 lbs: $50

71 to 99 lbs: $100

62-79 inches: $100; 80 inches and over: $150 
Southwest  $0 $0 First additional bag: $25; bags 4-9: $50; 10 and more: $110 51-70 lbs: $25 $50; 71-100 lbs: $50 62-80 inches: $50
United   $23 ($2 more if not paid online))   $32 ($3 more if not paid online); $50 for flights to Europe
 Bags 1-4: $125; 5th or more: $250  $100 63-115 inches: $125
US Airways  $23 ($2 more if not paid online)   $32 ($3 more if not paid online); $55  trans-Atlantic ($50 if paid online)  Bags 3-9: $100  51-70 lbs (23-32kgs): $50

71 to 99 lbs: $100

 62-80 total linear inches: $100


Other Airline Fees

Here we list, for most airlines, fees for ticket changes (non refundable fares); booking fares in person or by phone, kids flying solo, bringing a pet into the cabin, and booking fares other than online. As you can see, Southwest has the lowest and fewest fees, followed by other low cost carriers such as Airtran and Spirit. Note that most of these fees, unless otherwise noted, are for domestic flights; fees for international services may be higher. Last revision: Jan 24, 2010.

See also: New airline frequent flyer program fees 


Ticket change fee domestic/international Booking fares on phone/in person Unaccompanied minors (double for round-trip) Pet in cabin (double for round-trip) Advance or premium economy domestic seat selection (double for round-trip)
Airtran  $75   $15  $39 for nonstops; $59 for connections  $69 $6 (advance seat assignment); $20 (exit row)
Alaska  $75 on line/ $100 otherwise  $15/$15  $75  $100  not applicable
American  $150/$150-300  $20/$20  $100 $100 not applicable
Continental  $150/$150-$300  $25/$20  $75 nonstop/$100 connecting  $95 $125
 not applicable
Delta  $150/$200+  $25/$25  $100 $100  $5-$25
Frontier  $100  $25  $40 $50 per segment Not allowed not applicable 
JetBlue  $100  $15  $75  $100  $10-$20 (first 4 and exit rows)
Spirit  $100 80 online ($110 $90 otherwise) Lowest fares available online only  $75 $100  $85 $100 not applicable 
Southwest  $0 (you get a credit good for a year)  Lowest fares available online only  $25 $75  not applicable
United  $150/$200+  $25/$30  $99 $150 $99 $125 ($250 to $500 in hold)  varies
US Airways $150/$150-$250   $25 domestic, $35 international; at ticket offices $35 domestic, $45 international  $100  $100  $5-$30 per flight (aisle and window at front of economy cabin), although some passengers will be assigned these seats without paying by "luck of the draw"

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips


Fare of the Day: New York to San Jose, Costa Rica

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New York JFK to San Jose, Costa Rica $197 round-trip, incl. all taxes

You'll find this fare available for travel on up to 5 days out of the month, through April.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Cairo

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Los Angeles to Cairo, Egypt $623 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Ok, so this fare has actually gone up by just a smidgen since yesterday but it's still very much an a-mazing deal. Check out the other Aeroflot fares listed on our JFK and LAX pages.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Fare of the Day: New York to Cairo

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, November 16, 2009

New York JFK to Cairo, Egypt $487 round-trip, incl. all taxes

This fare is available on Aeroflot, for travel February 19 through March 1. We've also found Los Angeles to Cairo for $572 round-trip, incl. all taxes on the same dates.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Excuse me, can you please stop kicking my seat?

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, November 16, 2009

Here's a question we recently put to our friends on Twitter: What's the best (and nicest!) way to go about asking a parent to intervene when their child is kicking your seat back? And please note, we said the nicest way, so put away that fistful of Ritalin, Señor Snarkypants.

Some folks might feel uncomfortable with the idea of bypassing the parent and addressing the child directly, although that's what one reader suggested. Another Twitterer thought it best to involve a flight attendant, and let them ask on your behalf. "We're timid," they said.

And are you above bribes? Would it feel smarmy to offer the parent a prepaid gift card? Maybe buy them a drink? What would you do? Feel free to peruse the comments thus far on Twitter and Facebook, and tell us how you'd handle the situation below.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Air Travel

New to Airfarewatchdog?

Posted by Jason on Sunday, November 15, 2009

Signed up for an Airfarewatchdog Fare Alert, but in need of a few pointers on how to book these great deals from Airfarewatchdog? You’ve come to the right place!  As you know, we have three great email alerts to help you find the lowest airfares. Our City-to-City Alerts, our Fare Alerts from Departure Cities, and our Fare Alerts to Cities have helped thousands of people find airfares to/from their favorite airports. (If you haven't signed up for our email alerts, click on “Fare Alerts” in the menu on the left of any page on our website.)

1.  Want to book those incredible deals you receive from Airfarewatchdog?  Here's how.

For  City-to-City Alerts: Click on the link "See Fare Details."   


For Fare Alerts from Departure Cities or Fare Alerts to Cities:  Scroll down the list of cities and find the airfare that interests you.  Click on the price or the "See All Details" link we provide for each fare.

An example of a Fare Alert from Departure City:


An example of a Fare Alert to City:


2.  The Airfare Details for the selected route will now appear on your screen.  The details may include information such as the name of the Airline(s) offering the fare, the Travel by date, the minimum number of days Advance Purchase required, the days of the week Available for travel, and Our Notes which provide even more relevant, helpful info.


3.  If you would like to book this fare, you'll see two ways to find seats at the price we've shown you.

Check When Fare is Available Using Flexible Dates (and even when they're not flexible):  Quick links to the websites where we actually found the fare will be posted here.  You'll be able to search for available dates on these sites that show clickable calendars of fares or multiple dates on one page.  Much easier and faster than entering one date at a time!

Note:  One of the good reasons why we recommend this option first is that in the course of the day, another airline may match the price or even post a lower one.  Or the original airline listed may sell-out or decide to change the price.  Looking here first will keep you on top of things.


Check If Fare is Available for Your Dates:  A convenient search where you can enter specific dates for the fare.  Please disable any pop-up blockers to use this option and note that this will link you to multiple booking sites.  Remember, not every date is available for every fare.  Flexible date searches (see above) always increase your chances of nabbing the low prices you see.

Please note that is not a travel agency and we do not sell fares or book travel.  We only list low fares that we've found.  The booking happens on another site.

4.  Once you have selected a link or entered dates, you will be sent directly to the airline or online travel agency where you can start checking availability and choosing your flight.

5.  Continue the booking process at the company's website until your airfare is booked and confirmed.  Print your confirmation page when you're done, please!  Sometimes confirmation emails get stuck in a SPAM filter or bounced away by your email provider, so do print.  Better safe, than sorry.  

There.  Now you're ready to go and get the great fares we've found for you.  Happy Hunting!

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Thanksgiving: Be flexible, yes, but you can still land a peak fare for less than you've heard!

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, November 13, 2009

We've heard from a lot of frustrated travelers who can't find a decent fare home for Thanksgiving. And whenever we ask what days they're looking to travel, they typically answer Wednesday through Sunday. That's when our face falls and we belly-sob into the keyboard, because if there's one thing we harp on incessantly here at AFWD (and really, there are lots of things, but this one is a biggie), it's the importance of being flexible with your travel dates. And that goes double during the holidays. Everyone wants to depart after work on Wednesday Nov. 25 and return the following Sunday Nov. 29. That's why the airlines jack up the fares on these dates, and around these dates.

But hey, don't get discouraged. And puhleeez don't buy into the holiday-fare-panic-piece that the newspapers run every year telling you that fares between, say, Chicago and New York are $540 and you should buy immediately. Sure, holiday fares will always be a little higher than the norm, but if fares are too high and no one is buying, the airlines will lower them. And that's exactly what we're seeing this year.

For example, we've been monitoring holiday fares between Orlando and New York. A few weeks ago, this fare was between $400 and $500. And sure enough, the "experts" advised folks to buy now or else. Not to wag our we-told-you-so finger, but we had a hunch that these fares wouldn't sell, and counseled people to keep on shopping around. And today? We found Orlando to New York for just $237 round-trip, including all taxes, leaving Wednesday the 25th and returning Sunday the 29th. How about that, huh? Not bad!

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Fare of the Day: Atlanta to Salt Lake City

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, November 13, 2009

Atlanta to Salt Lake City $151 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Travel Monday-Saturday, through February 10.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Fare of the Day: San Francisco to Ft Lauderdale

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, November 12, 2009

San Francisco to Ft Lauderdale $25 one-way, incl. all taxes

This is part of the previously mentioned JetBlue sale, good for travel only on November 17.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

Fare of the Day

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Portland, Maine to Jacksonville, Florida $190 round-trip, incl. all taxes

This fare is valid for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with a 10 day advance purchase required.


To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips
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