20 April 2009

Airline Frequent Flyer Fees

"Frequent flyer miles are getting harder to spend and there are new fees that the airlines have added on to cash them in," Hobica said. Hobica said there are fees for almost everything. Just to process your ticket can cost anywhere from $25 to $50 on US Airways. If you request a ticket on short notice, be prepared to pay as much as $150 on some airlines. If you try and change a ticket or re-bank miles, many airlines will charge you as much as $100.
If your miles expire, depending on which airline you use, some will charge you up to $400 to reactivate them."You could end up paying almost as much in extra fees with some airlines as the ticket costs you," a traveler told ABC15."It's just outrageous," Hobica said. "It's just another way for the airlines to make money."Airlines say they are adding fees to offset increased operating costs. Hobica said there are ways to avoid paying these fees. "For many people, a better alternative is to use a cash back card," he said. Hobica recommends using a credit card like the America Express Blue Cash Card.

"They give you 5% cash back on groceries, pharmacy and gas station purchases," he said. "If you have a cash back card, you get cash. There's no restriction on spending it."Hobica also said another way to avoid paying extra is to fly on an airline that doesn't require you to pay fees."That airline is really Southwest Airlines. They don't charge for last minute booking. They don't charge for to rebank your miles." Hobica said. However, Southwest Airlines does charge $50 if your miles expire."That is actually a very reasonable fee. Other airlines charge a lot more for that privilege," he said. Overall, Hobica said it pays to be loyal. "Be loyal to one airline and you'll get better treatment," he said.

Airline frequent flyer fee chart

It used to be that free frequent flyer tickets were really free. But not anymore. Not only are airlines increasing the number of miles required, but they're constantly adding new fees for issuing tickets, changing them, not using them, requesting them on short notice, and flying confirmed same day stand by.

As usual, the airline with the fewest fees in this regard is Southwest. Continental and Northwest are better than most, and, as the chart below shows, Delta among the worst.

In addition to the fees listed here, you can expect to pay taxes, passenger facility charges, and the September 11 security fee, along with other government imposed surcharges. And if you're flying internationally with a child age 2 or under, even if it's sitting in your lap, you may be hit with a charge of 10% of your fare plus even fuel surcharges, and that's even if you're traveling on a "free" ticket (on a business class ticket to Australia, that might make you think twice about flying "free").
Fees listed were accurate at time of posting but can change at any moment, and probably will. Please comment if you believe that you've found a change or inaccuracy (or just to vent) and I'll check it out.
Keep in mind, too, that depending on your frequent flyer membership level, some of these fees may not apply to you, or they may be lower than shown.

(Find your airline and take a look at the fees they are charging at the link below)

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