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Learn How Taxes and Fees Increase Your Airfare

by SmarterTravel Staff - June 14, 2010

The fares you see listed on SmarterTravel's website are for round-trip travel, unless it's noted otherwise. Almost always, the prices don't include most of the taxes and fees that you're required to pay. On domestic flights, these additional charges can total up to $42.80, and on international flights, up to $175.

In general, when you see a listed fare, it includes a 7.5 percent federal excise tax, as well as fees levied by the airline, including fuel charges, if there are any. However, it does not include additional government-imposed taxes.

On domestic flights within the continental U.S., you can expect to pay:

  • a $3.70 federal flight segment tax for each takeoff
  • up to $4.50 in airport charges (known as Passenger Facility Charges or PFCs) for each takeoff, depending on the specific airports you fly from
  • a $2.50 September 11th Security Fee for each takeoff from a U.S. airport, up to a maximum of $10 round-trip

For typical round-trip domestic flights, the taxes and fees work out to:

Nonstop flights:

  • $7.40 in federal flight segment taxes
  • up to $9 in airport charges
  • $5 security fee

Total: up to $21.40

Connecting flights with one stop each way:

  • $14.80 in federal flight segment taxes
  • up to $18 in airport charges
  • $10 security fee

Total: up to $42.80

For domestic flights beginning or ending in Alaska or Hawaii, you can also expect to pay a Travel Facilities Tax of $16.20 per round-trip.

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For international itineraries, foreign and domestic fees can total up to about $175, depending on your routing and destination. U.S. government-imposed charges include a $16.10 international departure tax, a $16.10 international arrival tax, and up to $12.50 in immigration and customs fees. Foreign taxes will fluctuate based on the prevailing exchange rate.

Sometimes, you may not be able to book a fare at the price we've listed, even when taxes and fees are taken into account. That could be because seats are sold out at the lowest rate, or because your travel plans don't meet the rules of the specific fare, which may require travel on certain days or a minimum stay.

Many of the major U.S. airlines have instituted additional fees for booking tickets through their call centers, at airport reservations desks, or at city ticket offices. The fees range from $5 to $45 for most flights. Some carriers even charge for Internet bookings. Additionally, charges for optional services can sometimes raise the price you pay. These include $55 for a second checked bag, $250 for traveling with a pet, $100 for an unaccompanied minor, and many other charges.

As part of SmarterTravel.com's commitment to providing consumers with the information they need to make sound purchasing decisions, we include a link to this page anywhere we list airfares on our site. If you see anywhere we've forgotten to do this, please e-mail advice@SmarterTravel.com.

 
 
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