• Airline ancillary fees: What are they? What is new?

    Joyce Pflaumer
    Ancillary (definition): Providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organization, institution, industry, or system. This definition could not prove truer than for the airline industry, for which ancillary fees have become a significant source of revenue. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S.-based airlines collected over $800,000,000 in ancillary fee revenue for the first three months of 2012. With rising fuel prices and economic uncertainty, the additional profit provided through these fees has been somewhat of a saving grace for the industry.

    Airline ancillary fees became more prominent in 2008, when airlines and first began to charge for your first checked bag. Since then, the list of fees and additional charges has continued to expand.  Some of the most common ancillary fees are:

    • Baggage Fees
    • Change Fees
    • Cancellation Fees
    • Priority Boarding
    • In Flight food and beverage
    • Wi-Fi
    • Economy comfort type seats (a few extra inches of leg room)

    Check out a more comprehensive list of ancillary fees by airline. So, what does this mean for you? Simply put: your total cost of travel is increasing. Today, when comparing fare prices, looking at the fare itself will likely tell you an incomplete story.  If you want to make the wisest financial decision, it is important to consider other factors, such as: Will you potentially have to cancel or reschedule your trip? Will you check a bag? Will you access your email in flight? All these activities will add dollars to your trip, and increase your total cost.

    This past year several airlines made it even easier to purchase these ancillary-type products by making them available at the check-in kiosk. Although convenient, these charges can also be hard to categorize in expense systems. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your company’s reimbursement policy, so you can recoup any ancillary fees you may have incurred while traveling.

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