What the Airlines Don’t Tell You: Be Aware of New Trends in Upcharges and Surcharges

JoAnne Wycoff is an Airline Reservation Specialist for Educational Travel Consultants.
Her duties include quality assurance with student travel group airline purchases. JoAnne makes certain all of the ticketed information is correct. She also handles last minute additions to student travel trips.

Because of the rising cost of fuel, airline ticket prices are increasing. But there are now surcharges and up charges for airline tickets that were not included before. For example, if a traveler wants to purchase a snack, he or she must now pay for it on some airline carriers. If a traveler has to make a name change – meaning transferring the ticket to someone else’s name (not a name correction) there may be as much as a $100 fee to change the name.

JoAnne offers some good advice to anyone about to take a student travel trip or a trip of any kind, “When travelers receive e-ticket information, READ the instructions about going online and reserving a seat or the baggage limit. The E-ticket instructions will give a traveler an indication of baggage charges. If the traveler reads the instructions beforehand, then he or she will not be in for some surprises at the airport.”

Each airline is different. Feel free to telephone the airline and inquire about extra charges. Following is a short list of some of the surcharges and upcharges airlines have added in tough economic times.

Air Travel Check In: The Number of Bags Included in Ticket Price
Most airlines still allow one carry on that can be stowed overhead for no extra charge. A traveler may also carry a purse or a laptop with them. Limit the size of the carry on bag to something that can fit in an overhead stow, usually 55” or less.

Airlines: Additional Charges for Luggage
According to JoAnne, “Another trend is beginning to take hold in air travel. Several months ago one airline began to charge for additional bag checks. This trend may unfortunately continue, as other airlines follow suit.”

For example, Airtran allows travelers one free bag to check and carry on. Additional bag checks for Airtran only cost $10 if done online. If the traveler waits until he or she arrives at the airport the bag check costs $20.00. These rates are all based on standard size and weight luggage. If the bag is 62-80 inches it may incur an oversize baggage charge. Or, if it exceeds 51 pounds there may be overweight baggage charges.

American Airline’s is now charging a $15 fee for the first bag of luggage. This first bag fee is an annoyance to air travelers. Yet it may start a trend in the airline industry for other companies to do the same, mainly because of the higher cost of moving freight.

JoAnne says that this additional baggage charges will apply to both legs of the airplane journey. Although an airline will not add a baggage charge on the connecting flight, they certainly will charge the person flying for departure and return.

Student Travel to Some Markets Incur Extra Fees: Washington D.C., Orlando, NYC

Airplane seats to the most popular student travel destinations, such as Washington D.C., Orlando, or New York City, are easier to sell. Air ticket prices may be extra for student travel groups. The reasoning behind this is profits. Airlines see student travel as a large group that takes numerous seats on a flight. Often, individuals may be able to pay more to fly. Airlines tend to boost the price for group airfare to these markets. Although there is still a savings to buy more tickets, there is less of a savings to buy in bulk in Washington D.C., New York City, and Orlando, Florida.

Surcharge for Airplane Seating
A window seat or seat in the front of the cabin is now subject to an extra charge with most airlines. This extra seating charge may not apply to groups. The airline will make it a priority to seat the group together, though this cannot be guaranteed.

Purchase Student Travel Airline Tickets at the Same Time for Better Prices
When student group travel tickets are purchased they are purchased in large lots. If another person decides to travel with the group after the initial purchase has been made, they will often pay more – especially if the ticket cost increases during this time. Sometimes the price goes down, and the traveler may benefit. Remember to purchase student group travel airline tickets together for the most cost savings.

Paper Tickets vs. Electronic Tickets

Most airlines generate E-tickets to travelers now. If a student travel group or individual is working with an airline that issues E-Tickets and they prefer paper tickets, the airline will usually add a surcharge of $20 for this. Student travel groups should always remember to bring a photo identification along with E-tickets for security.

Everyone is looking to conserve resources in these tough economic times. Just be conscious of the new surcharges, and learn to read all of the information provided by the airlines, even if you must go online to retrieve it. When in doubt, ask questions.

View this article on IdeaMarketers.

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