11 New Airline Fees We Might See in 2011

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No. 3: Checked Bag Fees by the Pound -- Right now most airlines charge a fee for checked bags and then additional fees for overweight bags. For instance, Delta charges $25 for the first checked bag ($23 if you pre-purchase on the internet) for luggage up to 50 pounds. Passengers with bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds get hit with an additional $90 fee. Those with bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds face $175. Hobica suggested that instead of incremental fees, the airlines might add a few dollars for each extra pound. That will really make you think twice about packing that extra sweater.

No. 4: Luggage Distance Surcharge -- A checked bag costs the same whether your flight is an hour long or five hours long.

"If it is a fuel issue, and they claim it is, then why shouldn't they charge more for longer flights?" Hobica said.

Maybe the airlines, he suggested, keep the fees the same for flights under 1,000 miles and tack on another $10 or $15 for those longer trips.

No. 5: Internet Convenience Fee -- Ryanair charges 5 euros per passenger each way to "cover costs associated" with its booking system. Several years ago, US Airways briefly charged $5 for booking online and Allegiant Airlines also charges an online booking fee ($14.99). Hobica said it's only time before somebody else charges such a fee.

This might be especially true if the airlines eliminate booking through third-party websites as American Airlines is trying to do. You might save money by going to the airport but just don't speak to a human, or else that fee could kick in. And remember to pay in cash.

No. 6: Carry-On Bag Fees -- Spirit became the first to charge for bags that don't fit under the seat in front of you. The fee is actually more than that to check bags, a move the airline said was made to speed up the boarding process. Other airlines resisted but Hobica said it could catch on.

No. 7: No More Price-Drop Refunds -- It's a little-known trick in the airline world but passengers can often rebook their exact same flights if the price drops after they make a purchase. Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest don't charge anything to take advantage of a price drop, while other airlines charge $75 to $150 for domestic tickets, and more for international flights. So the price needs to drop more than that change fee in order for you to take advantage of the lower fare.

None of the airlines actually gives you cash back; instead you get a credit good for travel on one of their flights in the next 12 months.

Hobica questions why American carriers allow such refunds and suggest they will be eliminated in 2011.

No. 8: Infant Fees -- Right now, children under the age of two who sit on their parents' laps fly for free.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to change that. The federal agency says that a large number of air plane crashes are actually survivable but only if everybody is buckled up. And as much as a mother or father might love their child, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to hold on tight enough during a crash to stop the baby from flying through the cabin.

While the government decides what to do, Hobica said the airlines might add in some fees. Ryanair charges 20 euros for lap children. Why not United?

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