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Beware of Sneaky Airline Fees

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It’s no secret that airline ticket base fare is NOT the full cost. Taxes and fees do inflate the bill. However, to my surprise some airlines tack on some hefty carrier imposed fees and surcharges. These fees can be staggeringly steep, especially on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. For example, carrier fees alone on round trip business class tickets with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic can total $500 to $1,000. Again, these are just the additional carrier imposed fees.

You might wonder why you should care if an airline has a low base fare and high fees or vice versa. The truth is that this can matter a LOT if you use their frequent flier program to obtain a ticket. You generally don’t have to pay for the base fare,but that free ticket can cost a bundle due to taxes and fees especially if there is high carrier imposed fees. So what should you do?

Try to avoid flying on British Airways or Virgin Atlantic when redeeming or attempting to accumulate frequent flier miles.

If you already have accumulated frequent flier miles on on a steep fee airlines such as these, consider redeeming your miles for flights on one of its airline partners that does not impose steep fees. For example, British Airways miles can be redeemed for flights on American Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific among others. Virgin Atlantic miles can be redeemed for flights on Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and ANA, among others.

As a general rule, U.S. based airlines are least likely to charge hefty fees while European based airlines seem to be most likely to do so.

Be careful about booking an international flight using frequent flyer miles on a US based airline such as American. The airline’s web site may offer you a ticket on a foreign partner airline such as British Airways that imposes big carrier imposed fees.


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