News Column

Mass. Survey Reveals Hefty Airline Fees

Aug. 17, 2012

Ira Kantor, Boston Herald

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation released a survey today on airline fees that outlines hefty charges and fees travelers can face for such basic practices as checking bags or requesting specific seats.

The survey, conducted from April through July, looked into all airlines operating out of Logan International Airport, using information either from the airline's website or supplied by customer service representatives via phone.

The survey was based on the purchase of a basic coach ticket and did not include charges for requesting a non-stop flight versus a flight with layovers or plane transfers.

The consumer regulatory office said air travelers can encounter fees at the beginning of the booking process, at the gate and even for carrying an extra bag on the plane. Consumers who buy tickets over the phone rather than using the Internet will be hit with an extra charge as well. Customers who cancel or alter their flight plans face the highest fees, with some airlines charging $100 or more for switching flights.

Some airlines are also charging significant fees for taking pets on board or sending unaccompanied minors on flights, said the agency's undersecretary Barbara Anthony.

"We're not advising consumers to fly any specific airline on their next trip, but rather to shop around for the best deal and to pay attention to the fine print," Anthony said. "Travelers should closely examine airlines' policies that may affect how much you will pay. You may decide that you don't mind paying for an extra piece of luggage, but you should make an informed decision."

Among the more noticeable fees are:

-- Air France, which charges $100 for a second checked bag, and $285 for additional bags from the United States; as well as $200 to bring a pet on board from the United States.

-- Alitalia, which charges $250 for a date/itinerary/route change for tickets from the United States.

-- Delta Air Lines, which charges $100 each way for an unaccompanied minor.

-- Lufthansa, which charges $100 to $400 for a pet fee, depending on the carrier size.

-- Spirit Airlines, which charges $100 for any bag weighing between 71 and 100 pounds.

-- US Airways, which charges $25 to book flights over the phone, and $35 to book flights at the airport.

Source: (c)2012 the Boston Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services

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