If You're Flying This Summer, Fly Smart

With airline fees rising and flights becoming fewer and more crowded, there's a potential for real frustration at the airports this summer.

In response to the problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to propose changes to airline rules that could affect how much travelers pay in extra fees.

Last month the DOT implemented new rules mandating that airlines had to allow passengers to leave airplanes that were delayed on the tarmac for hours, and the penalties to airlines for bumping passengers from overbooked flights could increase.

Click HERE to learn more about the new airline regulations.

Mellody Hobson, "Good Morning America" personal finance contributor, appeared on the show today to discuss the issue.

Hobson, who is president of Ariel Investments, offered some money-saving tips.

Travel Smart this Summer

Know when to travel. Hobson said many of the larger airlines are charging passengers a peak travel surcharge that could be as high as $30 per seat. The charges usually affect the holidays, although FareCompare.com has reported that major airlines will charge more for most days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, she added.

Check baggage fees. When you purchase a ticket, be sure to check any added costs for your luggage. Hobson said United Airlines charges $25 for the first checked bag, and $35 for the second. She said Southwest Airlines has set itself apart by not charging for checked bags.

Pack light. All the travel experts say it: pack lighter and make good use of your carry-on bag.

Ship bags separately. Ship or send your overweight bags by courier, she said. It may cost far less than checking them in at the airline. Some hotels even offer delivery options, she added.

Click HERE to read more about airline fees.

Check your bags online. If you know you are going to check a bag, visit your airline's Web site. You'll usually find different pricing options for checking your bags at the airport as opposed to checking them in online.

Bring your own stuff! Airlines are now charging for meals, blankets and drinks. Pack a sweater and carry your own food and you'll save, Hobson said.

Web-extra tips:

If you're looking for a flight, shop on Tuesday afternoons. Most discount carriers will announce sales Monday nights and other carriers will match them on Tuesday morning. The weekend is the worst time to look.

If your destination city has two airports try and pick the less popular one. Airfare may be cheaper and you may run into fewer delays.

To get cheaper fares, try flying in the early mornings, say before 7 a.m., or late evenings after 8 p.m.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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