How to Fly for Less

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Traveling by plane this holiday season? Unfortunately, airfare is often the most expensive part of travel, especially these days, as airlines get more and more creative when it comes to extra fees.

Here's the good news: all it takes to save on airfare is a little bit of advance planning and some insider knowledge.
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How to Fly for Less

Traveling by plane this holiday season? Unfortunately, airfare is often the most expensive part of travel, especially these days, as airlines get more and more creative when it comes to extra fees.



Here's the good news: all it takes to save on airfare is a little bit of advance planning and some insider knowledge.


Keep reading for the lowdown on the sneaky surcharges you need to know about (and tips on how to beat them), the best time to find bargains, and tricks that frequent fliers use to save big on flights.


See today's top flight deals.

How to Fly for Less

On June 10, 2009 U.S. Airways started charging a $5 fee to pay baggage fees at the airport as opposed to beforehand on the internet. This week, United Airlines will follow suit. Who knows how many airlines will be next. Sidestep this annoying extra charge by paying your "check-baggage" fee online, before you arrive at the airport.


How to Fly for Less

Most airlines, including American, Northwest, United, Delta, and US Airways now charge a $15 fee to check your first bag. If you've ridden a plane at all in the last year, this is old news. What you may not be aware of, however, is the hefty price that airlines are charging for overweight bags. Try to check an overweight bag and you could find yourself shelling out anywhere between $39-175. The moral of the story? Check the weight limits before you start packing. When in doubt, bring a second suitcase-the $25 rate you'll pay for the extra bag is a far friendlier fee than the price of overpacking.

How to Fly for Less

More and more companies (US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Northwest to name a few) are setting up check-in counters at the curb.

It may be tempting to take advantage of the easy sidewalk service, but the extra convenience of dumping your luggage at the curb will cost you an additional $2 per bag. Save your pennies by walking the extra ten steps inside to check in at the counter.

How to Fly for Less

All major airlines, excluding Southwest, now charge fees, which can be as high as $25, to book a flight over the phone.



Spare your wallet by booking directly through the airline or agency's website. Although many online travel agencies charge as well, Expedia is the one exception to the rule-on November 5th, they eliminated their fees for making travel arrangements by phone.

How to Fly for Less

A growing number of airlines now charge for the privilege of choosing your seat. The price tag varies depending on who you fly with, but usually ranges from $5-15 (AirTran, for example, charges $5 for preferred seating, while Air Canada charges $15). Sidestep this fee by accepting your original seat assignment.

How to Fly for Less

Not only are paper tickets bad for the environment, they're also bad for your wallet-almost all airlines, including Delta and American, now charge between $50-70 for a paper ticket. Save trees and cash by going paper-less. You don't really need a hard-copy of your ticket. With today's technology, your reservation number and your name are all you need to pull up your ticket.

How to Fly for Less

Thinking of switching your departure date by one day? It'll cost you. Most airlines, including American, Continental, United, and U.S., now charge ticket holders between $75-150 to alter their itineraries. Only Southwest doesn't charge for trip changes-you won't get your money back, but you will receive a flight credit that is good for one year.

How to Fly for Less

Cashing in on frequent-flier miles at the last minute can cost you between $75-100 depending on the airline. To avoid this fee, check with your airline to find out what constitutes "sufficient notice." Some companies such as Continental consider three days enough time to redeem miles, but others, like Delta, require that you book your miles at least 22 days before departure.

How to Fly for Less

It may only be an extra $2 charge, but do you really want to fork over two hard-earned dollars for headphones that you'll only use in an airplane? Save yourself the trouble by bringing your own headset-most headphones now work in most aircraft.

How to Fly for Less

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