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August 10, 2021

List of outrageous airline fees continues to grow

Although booking an airline over the Internet is often easier, sometimes we just need to hear a human voice on the other end of the phone. But a $15 to $35 charge to arrange your flight through an agent?

Come on.

Looking for ways to squeeze out more revenue — without scaring off customers by raising fares — airlines have begun charging for the most basic amenities.

Here are a few of the fees that have been branded the most outrageous — either because they seem out of proportion to the service rendered or because they’re really thinly-disguised subsidies for airlines’ operational flaws.

* Ticket change

* Standby travel

* Phone reservation

* Exit row seating

* Peak travel surcharge

* First and second bag surcharge

* Carry on bag charge

* Curbside check in

* Washroom use

* Pillows and blankets

* Unaccompanied minors

What does all this add up to? The amount of hidden fees charged to a typical traveler with two bags ranged from 21% to 153% of the price of the base fare, according to recent analysis from the Consumer Travel Alliance.

What’s next? How about a fee for bringing food aboard? Or a few bucks for asking to move to an empty seat after the plane takes off?

If you're confused about airline fees and would like to make some comparisons, have a look at SmarterTravel’s Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide. You'll find a one-stop reference chart for every major airline fee from every major U.S. carrier and some Canadian ones to boot.

Which do you see as the worst airline fee going? Have we missed any? Have you found any way around them?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...