Airline Passengers: You Do Not Have to Pay Any Fees

Ways to skip fees even on some of most fee-laden airlines.

— -- File this under "Huh?" A recent media report says a travel analyst thinks passengers actually like airline fees.

Probably as much as they like bouncing around in turbulence, but most of us are getting used to the nickel and diming. What choice do we have?

Actually, we do have a choice, and the best option is: Do not pay. Even the biggest fee-hounds like Spirit Airlines correctly point out these are optional charges, which means there's always some way around them. Here are a few tactics.

1. Drop that phone

It's getting harder and harder to find information about making reservations by phone but yes, you can still do this and yes, it is going to cost you. In fact you'll pay two ways.

• Phone reservation fees typically run $25 to $35. • Calling does not allow you to compare fares so you may not get the best deal.

Tip: Always go online and always compare ticket prices. Or ask someone to do it for you.

2. Pack right, pack the right bag

Most international flights allow one free checked bag; on the domestic side, Southwest gives you two free bags and JetBlue gives you one (for now but JetBlue is dropping this freebie in the coming months). Suggestion:

• On larger airlines, pack light so you can travel with a free carry-on. • On Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit, pack really light because these carriers charge for all bags, with one exception: A bag you can squeeze under the seat in front of you.

Tip: Keep checked bags within weight limits (usually 40-50 lbs.). Overweight charges are far worse than standard baggage fees, running as high as $400 per bag for a round-trip flight.

3. Take care of yourself

This is about the nasty change fee, a $200 charge on many airlines for any alteration of an itinerary (though you do get a 24 hour change-your-mind grace period when you first buy your ticket). When you book flights, be as sure of your travel dates as is humanly possible, but also look out for your health. Easier said than done, since no one purposely gets the flu before a flight but try to avoid unnecessary health risks (and avoid sick people).

Tip: Been a while since your last check-up? Consider adding that to your summer trip planning to-do list; who knows, you may learn about a potential problem that can be easily dealt with now, and you won't find yourself falling ill in a foreign land.

4. DIY food service

Some airlines still have a few free snacks, but if you can fill up on a 0.4 ounce pack of mini pretzels, I salute you. You could buy one of those tired-looking wraps or salads on the plane but why not use that $10 for some good chow at your destination? You've got food at home, so bring it (and here are some suggestions). Bring a water bottle too but only if it's empty so you can get it through security. Fill it up at a drinking fountain after the checkpoint.

Tip: Hold the garlic, onions, tuna and egg salad sandwiches. These are the odors passengers usually say are the absolute worst.

The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney in this column are his alone and do not reflect the views of ABC News.