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Airlines may add carry-on, infant fees

January 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
With fuel prices on the rise, airlines are once again looking for new ways to increase the bottom line. It started with check-in baggage fees and now airlines are considering expanding those extra fees to carry-on bags.George Hobica, founder of the airfare deal and money saving travel website AirfareWatchDog.com, says airlines are itching to find new sources of income through extra fees.

"Without the fees, the airline industry would have lost money last year, so they're very important to the bottom line. And it looks like oil prices are going up, so we may see some new fees," he said.

So an airline might charge for a carry-on but only if it doesn't fit under the seat. Spirit Airlines charges $45 now with no plans to change.

"Spirit Airlines did not go back on their decision to charge for carry-on bags. I think a lot of people in the industry thought that they were going to rescind the carry-on bag fee, but you know what, they're still flying and they're making money," said Hobica.

In fact, all of the airlines are making money on extra fees. According to federal statistics, during most of last year, airlines made more than $6 billion charging fees for such things as checking in your baggage.

Besides carry-on fees, other new charges Hobica sees on the horizon are:

  • Infant fee: A charge to hold a baby on your lap
  • Credit card fee: A charge for buying tickets with a credit card
  • Lock-in fee: A charge to lock in your fare while you're thinking of buying it
  • In-person check-in fee

It looks like airlines may be taking their cues from the banks, in other words, any time you interact with a real human being, you may be charged a fee.

"So we may see more self-service," said Hobica. "The airlines do charge to talk to a human being on the phone, they didn't use to but now they do, and they may start that at the airport as well," said Hobica.

Most of these fees are speculation, but some are being levied by a few of the European airlines.