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Outraged by United overhead fees? Watch out for these 6 other ways airlines upcharge passengers

Posted at 12:12 PM, Dec 07, 2016

United Airlines' announcement of its new Basic Economy ticket, which restricts use of overhead bins, is the latest in a line of upcharges implemented across the airline industry.

As airlines fight to keep loyal customers by cutting prices on tickets, officials have been looking for ways to generate income to keep their aloft.

For United Airlines alone, charging for these "extras" is projected to increase the company's income by $1 billion, according to The Washington Post

If you're getting ready to fly, make sure to be ready for these additional charges you may not be including in your final ticket price. 

Seat assignments

Many airlines are assigning seats either at check-in or up to 72 hours before takeoff, unless passengers upgrade their tickets.

This has caused alarm for many families who worry about not having their children by their side during a flight. Extra fees (for upgraded seats) can cost hundreds of dollars for families who need to upgrade each party's ticket for anywhere from $10 to $100 each way.

Government officials have stepped in to address the issue. US Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado introduced a measure to require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to mandate parents and children to sit together on flights.

"Parents shouldn't have to pay extra to sit with their kids on a flight," Bennet wrote on his official website. "Separating them is not safe and often leaves them at the mercy of other passengers who must decide whether to trade seats."

Frontier Airlines, a discount carrier, has an illustration specifically warning passengers about the possibility of separating parties if they opt for the free, random check-in. 



Other airlines only allow seat selection (Delta, United, American) with a fee or an upgrade in ticket category or to choose a window or aisle seat, so read the fine print carefully before placing your order.

Carry-on bags

Some airlines charge for carry-on items, no matter what overhead bin policy they may have.

Fees for carrying on bags may not be new, but the each airline that charges has a different policy. Prices range from $25 to $100, so add that to your travel budget.

Overweight/oversized bags

Checked bag and carry-on bag fees push passengers to want to bring fewer and larger suitcases, which translates to heavier bags that take up more space.

To help prevent excess baggage size and weight, each airline tacks on a fee for bags that goes over the limit. Fees can go as high as $200 per bag, which aren't assessed until check-in. Therefore, check your airline's size and weight limits and pack lightly, otherwise you could get an expensive surprise at the airport.

Boarding pass printing

Many airlines now charge a fee to have a desk agent print a boarding pass or at a self-serve kiosk at the airport. Fees range from $5-$10 per boarding pass. To avoid these fees, either print the boarding pass at home or use the airline's smartphone app which will hold a digital copy of your pass.

Date change fees

Airlines made $3 billion just in change and cancelation fees in 2014, according to the US Department of Transportation.

These charges can get steep, so before you select a ticket, make sure you have travel dates confirmed. 

Domestic travel change or cancelation fees can go as high as $200 and international fees can reach $500. 

Consider your airline choice carefully and review their refund policies before booking a trip. Also think about travel insurance if you can't guarantee your travel dates.