5 On Your Side

Tips to avoid additional airline fees

Posted October 25, 2016

— Airlines made a record $25.6 billion last year, but customer complaints increased 34 percent from 2014. Complaints include cramped seating, lost luggage and the Transportation Security Administration, but the most common complaint is additional fees.

There are tips and tricks to avoid the additional cost.

First of all, be smart when it comes to selecting your preferred seat. With airlines packing in more passengers than ever before, many travelers book ahead to avoid the dreaded middle seat, but the guaranteed seat will cost you. Airlines have long charged for extra leg room, but now selecting even a regular economy seat in advance will result in an additional charge.

One tip is to wait until a few days before the flight to select your seat. Airlines often release unsold or canceled seats 72 hours before the flight. So travelers who check in a few days before departure might score a decent one without the added fee.

As for leg room, SeatGuru.com shares most airlines' seating plans, including size, limited recline and leg room.

Another major travel mishap is missing a connecting flight, so travelers should allow plenty of time. Consumer Reports recommends allowing at least two hours between domestic flights and four for overseas travel.

Sitting in the front can save as much as 15 minutes when exiting a plane, but you will likely have to pay for that seat. So it's best to schedule longer layovers to avoid missing your connection and paying extra for a specific seat.

Avoid booking the last flight of the day, and if possible, avoid major airports that have the worst on-time departure performance. Travelers do have rights if they're bumped involuntarily from a flight or are delayed. Flyers may be entitled to up to $650 if the flight is domestic and $1,300 dollars if it's international, according to Department of Transportation regulations.

While no airline is perfect, the latest customer satisfaction survey found JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America are ranked the favorites among passengers.


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