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Credit Kossy@FINEDAYS

Credit: Kossy@FINEDAYS.

By Joe Brancatelli

Are travelers paying more to fly? Yes and no. While fares themselves are still far below the rates they reached in 2008 during the height of the oil crisis, fees are adding up fast. Several studies released in recent weeks indicate that the total price travelers now play to fly is 50 percent above the basic fare for the ticket. Bag fees and other so-called ancillary charges are driving the increase. And there are two more fee changes to report:

  • American Airlines now charges $19-$39 each way to select a “prime” seat in coach. At the moment, you can only buy the supposedly “prime” seats at the airport when you check-in at an American Airlines kiosk. The price is based on the distance of the flight: the $39 fee is for long flights such as transcontinental routes.
  • AirTran Airways has added $5 to its fee to check your first bag. It is now $20 a bag.

How much do the airlines rake in with extras like seat-assignment fees, “busy day” surcharges, fast-boarding fees and the like? About $2 billion a year, according to the most recent estimate.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use

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