What the Airlines Don't Want Us to Know About Fees

#5. Airline fees are for the "poor" - the "rich" don't pay them.

You know the old saying: The rich get richer. In other words, if you can afford that airline-branded credit card, which might cost as much as $450 a year in card fees, you will get a bonus of free bags.

Or maybe you fly business class, or spend really big bucks on first; with the free gourmet meals, you'll have no worries about food fees. Or maybe you can afford frequent trips to faraway vacations; your elite status in miles programs will eliminate all kinds of fees, especially for bags. File this one under "Sometimes life isn't fair." But hang on a sec, and take a look at No. 6.

#6. Airline fees are like traffic jams - you can avoid them if you're smart.

Avoid the $50 round-trip checked-bag fee on most airlines by not checking a bag.* It really is that simple. I have gone to Europe with a carry-on (so did my wife) and it worked out fine. Plus no worries about lost bags. The key here is a little planning. Figure out what you need for your trip and what can you do without. My recommendations:

• Pack light; buy shampoo and weighty toiletries at your destination. • Don't buy airplane food. Your own is better and cheaper. • Don't drink alcohol; soft drinks and coffee are free (except on Spirit, of course). • Don't ask for a blanket; airlines that still have them will charge a fee, so wear a sweater.

And don't pay for a better seat unless this is very important to you. Instead, select your seat when you purchase your ticket, but if it's not a good one, keep checking back online since better seats are often released over time. Continue to check back up to and including the day of departure, and at the airport kiosk. And be sure to check-in for your flight at the earliest moment allowed.

*My advice for Spirit flyers is just the opposite: Check your bag to avoid the more expensive carry-on fees.

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