Airlines announce new fee for holiday travel

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Five major airlines announce another new fee for customers who will be flying on popular travel dates around major holidays.

American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and U.S. Airways will now charge customers a $10 surcharge to fly on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the weekend after New Year's Day -- on top of the higher fares usually associated with those days.

Dennis and Carol McShane are visiting the Grand Valley from California. They say the fares for their round trip air tickets were dirt cheap -- but the fees the airlines tacked onto those fares were just dirty.

"We paid an additional hundred dollars in fees for the two tickets, which is ridiculous," says Carol.

Travel experts say it's a trick airlines are using to get more people on their flights, as many of them operate in the red and say they need to find ways to turn a profit.

"It'll show the regular fare and it's not until you book it that you see that additional dollars, which is an advantage for the airlines," says Vonnie Hicks, owner of First Class Travel in Grand Junction.

And Hicks says it's working.

"They're definitely making lots of money on the fees," says Hicks.

Researchers say airlines have collected $3.8 billion dollars in fees alone this year. That's up from the $2.3 billion they collected in 2008.

Now with this latest fee -- "You're already paying much higher rates so then to add another ten dollars fee, it's ridiculous," says Carol. "Fee, fee, fee."

Tavelers say saving money on airfare becomes ever more important. Something experts say is very possible if you plan ahead and buy tickets at their cheapest.

"You wanna buy in advance so you get the cheapest fare," saysicks. "Even if you're paying the $10, you still want the cheapest fare."

Hicks says airlines only set aside a few seats in each flight at the cheapest fares and that prices progressively get higher.

She also says it's important to be flexible. During the holidays try flying the Saturday after Thanksgiving or the Monday or Tuesday after New Years.

"If you travel in the middle of the week, you generally are gonna get a better fare," said Hicks. "And they generally offer more of those cheap seats in the middle of the week."

Finally, she says comparing airports is key -- sometimes Montrose has cheaper rates than Grand Junction or vice versa. And now that gas prices are down from where they were last year, she says many of her clients are deciding to drive to Denver or Salt Lake City to get cheaper fares.

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