Airlines Increase Fees, Introduce New Charges

(The Washington Post) -

The writing in the big blue sky reads more fees and tougher airline policies. Condolences to your nickels and dimes in advance. Here are the latest changes to hit your high-flying wallet:

— Frontier Airlines is recognizing passengers who book on its website and punishing those who stray. Starting this summer, travelers who book a Frontier flight through a third-party site will have to pay a carry-on luggage fee — $25 per bag when purchased in advance, and $100 at the airport. The new rule pertains only to carry-on bags stashed overhead, not a personal item tucked under the seat. Those who book on will continue to receive the free carry-on perk. In addition, beginning July 1, customers who purchase economy or basic fares will lose their complimentary beverage, and will have to throw down $1.99 for coffee (free refills!), tea, soda (full can!) and juices. Also on July 1, the carrier will change the mileage accrual rate on basic fares from 50 percent to 25 percent of miles flown. The moral of this story: Frontier really wants travelers to book higher fares on its website and will pinch those who don’t.

— United started the trend of upping change fees on nonrefundable tickets in North America and to select destinations in South America. The $50 increase bumps the price tag to $200 and $300, respectively. US Airways, American and Delta recently joined the club, jacking up their penalty by the same amount. Depending on the carrier, the price hike affects reservations around North America and to the Caribbean, Central America, Canada and Brazil. For now, change fees on Europe and Asia itineraries remain the same. United, your move.

— Southwest is no longer suffering fools who fail to show up for their flights. This month, the carrier will implement a new “no show” policy that sticks the MIA traveler with the cost of the fare. The rule applies to passengers who book Wanna Get Away or DING fares on or after May 10 and are traveling on or after Sept. 13. Previously, passengers had up to a year from the purchase date of the ticket to rebook a flight.