The True Cost of Air Travel

By Jody Yetti

airline-ticket-feesHow much are you really paying for your airline ticket? Airlines today are becoming tyrannical about details, and some are downright petty with regard to additional charges to the consumer. So how do you know what’s legitimate? And, how can you save on your next flight? Travel agent Jody Yetti offers her input on the airline ticket increase craze:

After increasing ticket prices to accommodate their losses, the airlines have now made it standard practice to charge for baggage, food, headsets, pillows, and soon to be announced: the lavatory. (You heard it here first. Although not official, it has been discussed.)

I have no sympathy when fuel prices go up because airlines buy fuel contracts years in advance. The airlines lock in their fuel prices years in advance, and have resources to call on even if the price of fuel skyrockets for three months.

However, the end result is an airline ticket can end up costing a lot more than the ticket price.

Lighten Your Load

Ladies, watch what you pack or it will cost you.

Picture this scenario: You’re standing at curbside check-in. After a one-and-a-half hour commute in traffic, you’re stuck behind a family of six and when you finally arrive at the counter this is how it goes.

“May I see your ID? How many bags?”

Umm, two.

“That will be $20 dollars for the first bag and $30 for the second.”


“Oh and you are 3 lbs. over the 50 lb. allowance, so there will be an additional $50 due in order to board your flight.”

Wait! This I can fix.

Now, I know of no self-respecting single woman who hasn’t over packed at least, well, most of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shoving high heels in my carry-on and bathing suits in my camera bag, while reaching for my passport and begging the counter person to “weigh it again, Sam.”

I have found they will allow you three minutes to repack at the counter to readjust the weight restriction, if not open your wallet.

I remember a time, not that long ago, when customer service actually meant catering to client satisfaction. How many charges can they hit you with? Let me count the ways.

If you have to change your travel date after ticketing there’s a $150 change fee plus an additional $50 to reissue.

Baggage on most domestic flights is $20 for the first piece, $30 for the second, and $100 for the third. If you exceed 50 lbs., you pay another $50 dollars for each bag that is over weight.

The Cost of Companionship

Want to bring little Rocky on vacation? Your cat will cost you $100 each way.

When you travel with pets, restrictions also apply so make sure you’re always mindful of weather conditions and health certificate mandates. Most airlines have baggage compartments that are temperature controlled and only two pets are usually allowed in the cabin with you so advance reservations are always recommended. In the cabin, your pet must fit under your seat and carriers have airline approved classifications so know before you go.

Keep in mind, not all airlines allow pets.

Southwest Airlines recently started allowing pets. In this travel agent’s opinion, Southwest is one of the most ingratiating airlines. I personally love the levity of their wit and witticism, and they do not charge for the first two bags (they charge $50 for the third). Even I can pack around that, and although people despise the ABCs of their seating, it’s a minor inconvenience for a free glass of juice and a package of cookies. There is also no fee to change or cancel. Thank you.

Your Kids Cost

Single moms, keep in mind that if your children fly without an adult, the airlines will charge you. This is what’s called an “unaccompanied minor fee.” When it’s a nonstop flight, you’ll be charged $100 extra each way.

Personally, I have a problem with this policy. I mean, where do they think junior can go, out on the wing? It is a nonstop, after all, and it’s not like they’re giving $100 off to the person sitting next to someone else’s kid.

Southwest only charges $25 dollars each way, but there are age restrictions so check with the airline or your travel professional.

Most air carriers won’t oblige at all if it’s a flight with a connection. They don’t want to be responsible for children between connections.

Other Charges

“Excuse me can I have something to drink?” A Bloody Mary will cost you $5.

Want to watch a movie with that drink? Be prepared to spend another $5 for the headset.

If you get tired, your flight attendant can sell you a pillow, and if you get the munchies after that drink, the chips will cost you too.

You know the credit card slogan, “don’t leave home without it”? Hopefully you’re not over the limit on your charge card, dear traveler, because the airlines are becoming cashless: in other words, credit only.

If you don’t have any available funds on your American Express card, make sure when you board that plane you snuggle up to the person next to you and hope their credit is good. If not, you better be able to lip read if you plan on watching the movie.


Jody Yetti, a single woman business owner and seasoned traveler, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years. She owns Jody’s Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency for single women and other savvy travelers, located in Moriches, NY. Jody can be reached at 631-281-3636 or

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