Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Airlines: The Year of the Fees

Just when you thought the airline ugliness of recent weeks was past, a TIME magazine article suggests there could be more to come this summer. The guy in charge of protecting the airline whistle-blowers hints that there could be more cases of shoddy inspections coming to light this summer, which could lead to more groundings and flight cancellations.

There's also a new airline fee to report: United has increased the change fee to a whopping $150 (up to $250 for some international flights). Yes, we've all gotten used to the fact that we'll have to pay a fee to change our ticket. It started reasonably: a large enough fee to deter needless changes, but not so large that it penalizes people with a valid need. Now, United will charge you a fee so large that you could buy a whole new ticket to some destinations.

Incidentally, Arther Frommer has an excellent blog article that outlines this year's new airline fees, including increased over-the-50-pound-limit fees for that single bag you're allowed to check for free. It's only April, but I think we can safely call this The Year of the Fees.

On the brighter side, I've been seeing lots of air fare sales lately, so you can still get a good deal if you check only one bag, don't change your ticket, are willing to sit in a middle seat, don't mind living in the airport for several days if your flight is cancelled, and can last a six-hour flight without eating. Happy travels!

Delta: Atlanta & NYC on sale
AirTran: Spring/Summer/Fall sale
Continental: Canada for cheap
American: To/from the Southwest
Southwest: Always easy to find low fares

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