These Are The Sneakiest Hidden Fees While Flying


Airlines are cutting costs. They say it allows passengers to only pay for what they use, and occasionally we’ll give them a little leeway with that. (Who really wants to pay for the soggy, salty in-flight meal in the overall ticket price?) But mostly, it just makes things really confusing and leaves customers wondering when/where/why they’ll next be gouged by fees. Here are some sneaky costs many airlines hide in the fine print.


Gone are the days when you could expect a meal onboard with the price of your ticket. Although certain airlines will feed you (if the flight is deemed long enough), most will charge you for anything besides some complimentary pretzels.

Airlines that don’t have any free snacks include Frontier, Wow, Norwegian and Spirit. For international flights, American, Delta, British Airways and United will likely provide food. Otherwise, you have to purchase your meals, even on long-haul flights. (Shoutout to JetBlue for always giving coach customers a selection of snacks and staving off hangry plane interactions!)

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Not even water is a guarantee on some budget airlines. Both Wow Air and Spirit Airlines might try to charge you for bottled water, instead of bringing you a cup.

Most other airlines will at least offer complimentary water, and on larger commercial flights you’ll likely still get the option of coffee, juice or soda.

Printing Your Boarding Pass

Don’t try to get on a Spirit Airlines flight with a mobile boarding pass. You need a paper copy before you get to the gate. At the gate, the airline charges you $10 to print out your ticket. Allegiant also charges customers $5, while Ryanair charges $17.

Overweight Baggage

On Norwegian flights, even if you’re only bringing a carry-on, you have to check in in person. They’ll weigh your backpack and charge you if you go over the weight limit. Worse, they might make you check the bag, incurring an extra checked-bag fee. Weight limits vary by ticket type; it’s 22 pounds for the cheapest level.

If your baggage goes over 50 pounds for other airlines, you’ll also incur a fee. American, United and Delta charge $100 for 50 to 70 pounds; $200 for 71 to 100 pounds.

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Basic Economy Fares

If you book a Basic Economy ticket on airlines such as Delta, United or American, you can’t use the overhead bins. You can’t reserve a seat in advance – it’s likely a middle seat for you, probably in the way way back of the plane.

Calling The Airline

Yes, some airlines will literally charge you for calling a representative to book your ticket. Technically, they’re charging you for bypassing their websites (airlines’ preferred method of customer service these days). So if there’s a question you can’t find in a quick scan of the site, maybe take a second look before calling.