Airline fees continue to take off

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by Janet Roach, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:56 PM

NEWPORT NEWS-- Airline passengers should get used to being nickeled and dimed when it comes to paying fees, as some airport officials predict fees will only get worse as fuel prices continue to rise.

"It was becoming harder and harder for airlines to be able to run routes and make a profit, like any business, " says Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport Communications Director, Jessica Wharton.

According to Cheapism.com, Allegiant Air, which operates out of Newport News, generates 30 percent of its revenue through fees.

An airline spokesperson says the fees help keep their fares low and passengers mainly pay for the services that they want. For instance, if you choose a seat assignment, there's a fee. If not, the airline will assign you a seat at no extra charge. 

Allegiant, unlike most carriers, charges for carry on bags. The fee is $10 to $35 if paid in advance. The baggage fee for the first and second checked bag is $14.99 to $35 per bag, per segment, depending on your departure and arrival airports. Bag fees paid at the airport for the first and second checked bag are $50 or $75 per bag.

But the fee that may take many passengers by surprise is what the airline calls the 'electronic carrier usage fee', formerly known as the 'convenience fee.' If a passenger books a flight on the airline's website, they'll be charged $10 per segment. If they book through the call center, then there's a $14.99 charge.

Picking up on passenger fee frustration, Frontier Airlines promotes booking flights on its website and promises cheaper flights than what can be found using a third party booking source. But a recent check on a flight to Denver from Newport News showed a price of $228.99 for the "economy" fare that does not include baggage fees. Travelocity shows a U-S Airways flight for $183.30.

Neither option includes baggage fees, but Frontier hopes passengers will pay a little more to get fares that do include the fees and other perks, such as a refund with no penalty.

"They have different levels of fare classes that you can purchase from economy to classic plus," says Wharton, who adds that passengers need to do their research before booking a flight.

"So you really need to read about that stuff and determine for you what's important on the trip that you're getting ready to take and find out what things you need and don't need," said Wharton.

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