According to trip-planning site Hopper, domestic flights this summer are about 15 percent higher than last, meaning deals are harder to come by than ever. Think you’ve found an elusive bargain on your summer flight? You’d be wise to read the fine print.
By law, airline base fares are required to include taxes, mandatory fees, and fuel surcharges, but optional fees for checked bags, advance seat assignments, and carry-on pets? Not included. In fact, some airlines make it next to impossible to determine fees for these perks. You could scour their maze-like websites for ages, just trying to find out how much it costs to bring Fido or Fluffy along.
Luckily, Hopper has developed a handy airline fees calculator to help. Simply enter your route and click the additional services you’d like (carry-on bags, Wi-Fi, seat selection, pets, and so forth). Hopper will generate a list of round-trip flights with all of your inclusions, making it easy to compare, for instance, the average price of a flight from Boston to Los Angeles with one checked bag, an advanced seat assignment, and a carry-on puppy (total: a reasonable $569 on JetBlue, a ridiculous $930 on Spirit). You can then select a flight and click through to Hopper’s booking engine.
The tool is best used for domestic flights, as Hopper currently aggregates fee data from U.S. airlines. The list includes AirTran, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, United, US Airways, Virgin America, Alaska, Hawaiian, Sun Country, Silver Airways, Island Air, Great Lakes Airlines, Cape Air, Era Alaska, SeaPort, Air Choice One, and Peninsula.
Hopper doesn’t generate overweight- and oversized-baggage fees (which can cost you up to $400 in additional fees on some airlines), nor does it allow you search for specific dates until you reach the booking engine. Still, it’s valuable for quick price comparison, and it clearly shows you which airline’s “cheapo” fares are nothing but a heap of baloney.
For maximum portability, don’t forget to print and pack a copy of our comprehensive airline fees guide, which rounds up costs for baggage, booking, flight change/cancellation, and more. We keep a copy on the fridge.
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