Saving money in the skies

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Buying a plane ticket has always been expensive, but today's prices are even higher, thanks to hidden fees tacked on by many major airlines. Those hidden fees can cause your money to soar out of your pockets if you are not aware of some of the extra fees airlines may add on.

Billions of dollars in extra fees are collected by the airline industry every single year, making travelers like Anne Haynes a little frustrated.

"You're trying to do things low cost, but there's always something extra to pay," Haynes said.

According to, travelers shelled out almost $3 billion in miscellaneous fees just last year. Some airlines have become even more creative with extra charges for everything from trying to redeem your frequent flier miles to charging more for even certain economy class seats.

"I can pay it, it's just an irritation," Jon Jacobs said.

Some can't pay it. Charleston International Airport ranked second most expensive to fly out of the 100 largest U.S. airports included in a recent federal report. Only flying from Huntsville, Ala., cost more at $485. Travelers paid an average of $461 in the second quarter of 2010. So, adding fees can really hurt your wallet.

Charging to check bags and purchase snacks in flight are some of the obvious new ways airlines are tacking on extra fees, but there are several other that you might not be as familiar with.

The best economy class seats, which make up the first few rows of coach, tend to have a bit more legroom and overhead space. Those seats used to be reserved at no additional cost, but those days are long gone. Now, many major airlines charge anywhere from $9 to $39 extra dollars for seats that are still in economy seating and they are only available just before the flight leaves.

One of the newest fees is a co-pay for redeeming frequent flyer miles. Most major airlines, except Southwest and Jet Blue Airways charge the fee, which could be up to $500.

If you have miles with an airline that has the co-pay for redeeming points , you can use the points for services that don't cost extra or switch your loyalty.

"I hope it's not here to stay but you know they are gonna get their money some way so," one airport traveler said.

Another fee is the priority boarding fee, which several of the major airlines charge. Priority boarding use to be for those with special needs, followed by everyone else. Now, a fee of $9 or more can be assessed, which then allows you to head straight to the front.

People who purchased a full fare, business class or elite frequent flyers already get priority seating without paying extra.

Some travelers shared their own tips when it comes to saving when flying.

One traveler said that "coordinating, in order to have a lighter bag," saves from paying bag fees.

A recent survey through consumer travel alliance, revealed that two-thirds of those surveyed said they had been slapped by unexpected charges by some airlines. So it pays to do a little extra homework.

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