"Hidden" Fees Can Hike Your Airfare By 50 Percent

Group wants airlines to disclose fees before travelers buy tickets

By Ellen Goldberg
|  Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010  |  Updated 11:44 PM CDT
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Adding Up Airline Fees

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The Consumer Travel Alliance looked at fees on nine major airlines along four popular domestic routes. A traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags pays about 54 percent more than the price of the ticket shown at the time of purchase.

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Adding Up Airline Fees

A consumer group is asking the government to require airlines to disclose fees.
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A consumer group is asking the federal government to require airlines to disclose all additional fees when travelers buy their tickets.

The Consumer Travel Alliance looked at fees on nine major airlines along four popular domestic routes. A traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags pays about 54 percent more than the price of the ticket shown at the time of purchase.

“I was shocked -- it cost me $50 to check one bag the other day,” traveler Paula Feldstein said.

Many airlines have added fees for services that used to be free to make up for revenues lost because of the recession.

“It’s just ridiculous," traveler Jessica Jacobson said. "When does it stop becoming this huge fiasco of fees?"

“I don't know why we’re paying fees in the first place,” Feldstein said.

The Consumer Travel Alliance says airlines should have to clarify the cost of travel by disclosing all additional fees at the point of ticket purchase.

Many travelers seem to on board with the idea.

“I think that what it cost me to fly from point A to point B is what I need to pay, not, 'OK, I'll charge you less and tack on a $45 fee if you carry a bag,” Feldstein said.

Other ideas include bag fees that are proportional to the length of the trip and the bag's weight -- rather than a flat fee -- and automatic refunds from the airline if a checked bag is late.

A congressional committee is holding a hearing on airline fees in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The CEO of Spirit Airlines and representatives from Southwest Airlines are set to testify.

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