8 Airline Fees That Are Actually Worth Paying


Airlines are using more and more excuses to tack on extra fees to your airfare. Services that used to be included in the airfare are now only provided if you're willing to dig deeper into your pocket. (See also: 37 Hidden Travel Fees)

Sure, you can avoid paying these charges by going with just the basics. But as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Think about the benefits you'll be forgoing before you say no to these premium services.

1. Extra-Legroom Seat

Airlines call the space you get on the plane the "seat pitch." This is the distance between the back of your seat and the back of the seat in front of you.

The standard seat pitch in economy class used to be between 33 and 34 inches, but it has narrowed to about 31 inches. If you travel on a budget airline, the seat pitch could be as small as 28 inches. No wonder you feel cramped!

There's always the possibility of you lucking out and getting a spacious seat for free. But if you have long legs and a longer journey ahead of you, maybe you should just bite the bullet and pay the extra fee.

Prices for extra-legroom seats vary depending on the airline and the flight route, ranging from under $50 to a few hundred dollars. You can book the extra-legroom seat when you purchase the ticket or at the airport when you check in. (See also: Tricks to Make Flying in Coach Feel Luxurious)

2. Wi-Fi

If you have urgent matters to attend to, the in-flight Wi-Fi can be a lifesaver. It's also great for the fun stuff, such as chatting on Twitter or posting photos of the clouds on Instagram. Wi-Fi is still a relatively new in-flight offering, so you could impress many of your online friends just because you're posting from 35,000 feet in the air.

The price for in-flight Wi-Fi service depends on the airline and the length of time you use the service, but it's generally under $50, and sometimes as low as $2.

3. Kid-Free Zone

Children may be the future, but they don't make very good travel companions. They cry, scream, and kick your seat.

If you want to sleep in peace during your next flight, consider traveling in a kid-free cabin. Several Asian airlines have already introduced special kid-free sections, including AirAsia X and Scoot Airlines. There is no U.S. airline that currently offers a kid-free zone, but this could change in the future.

4. Entertainment

In-flight entertainment is often included in the airfare for many long-haul international flights. For domestic flights, some airlines require you to pay for it through tablet rental or headset purchase. At under $10, it's a small price to pay to combat boredom when you have nothing else to do.

5. Lounge Access

Some airport lounges offer exceptional facilities, such as Wi-Fi, salons, spas, massage chairs, bars, restaurants, showers, and nap rooms. Relaxing in a good airport lounge can be quite an experience, especially if you encounter a long delay.

But not all airport lounges are created equal. You could end up with only cold sandwiches and tattered novels in some lackluster lounges, so do your research before you pay the access fee.

Note that usually you can get into exclusive airport lounges for free by achieving a special status with a frequent flier program or by getting certain credit cards. Otherwise, you could pay a one-time access fee or an annual membership fee. The Sleeping in Airports website has a big list of airport lounges where you can get more information to determine whether a particular lounge is worth the fee. (See also: How to Earn Miles Without Flying)

6. Direct Flight

This is not an extra fee, but a direct flight is often more expensive than a flight with stopovers along the way. It can be worth the cost, though.

If you have a large carry-on, it can be quite a hassle to lug it off the plane and onto another plane. The time you spend in stopovers also reduces the amount of time you have to enjoy the trip — not to mention the potential for missing your next flight if your first one runs late. And if you spend the stopover getting snacks and magazines at the airport, you might end up negating any savings you get from choosing the non-direct flight.

7. Baggage Allowance

It's always best to travel with just a carry-on bag — you'll avoid extra fees — but sometimes you just can't help having a lot of stuff. (See also: 15 Packing Secrets From a Pro Traveler)

If you're lucky, you might meet a nice check-in agent who would wave you through despite your extra bags. But if you know ahead of time that you will have more than the allocated allowance, it's safer to minimize the fees by purchasing excess baggage coupons or vouchers prior to the flight.

8. Airport Choice

You could save some money on your airfare by flying out of smaller airports, which are usually further away from city centers.

But before you book that flight, calculate how much the transport to and from the airport would cost.You might be better off choosing the flight that leaves from a busier airport.

The main airport is more likely to have more public transport options, such as buses or trains. With a small airport, you're often limited to car rentals and taxis, which cost more.

Are there any airline fees you just go ahead and pay, anyway? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

This writer makes the same mistake many inexperienced travelers do: she confuses a "direct" flight with a "non-stop" flight. They are different things entirely. A non-stop flight is exactly what that: the plane does not stop anywhere between point A (your originating airport) and point B, your final destination.

A direct flight, however, DOES stop at an airport between your originating airport and your final destination. The flight stops but you don't have to change planes. After other passengers embark and disembark, the plan continues to your final destination. THAT is a direct flight.

Guest's picture

Sounds like something written by the airlines to get even more out of your pocket.

Guest's picture

Sometimes direct flights are cheaper than non-stops; sometimes they're not. It just depends upon . . . well, the computers that decide the airfares.