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"
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