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Travel Tip: How Unbundling Airline Fees Affects Plane Ticket Prices

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Image Credit: Alessandra Taryn

Transparent airline pricing: does it exist?

Not really.

Airlines began unbundling fees and services from the airline portion of your ticket when they started charging for checked bags in 2008.

Since then, the airfares you see displayed online are essentially deceptive because they don’t reflect what you’re really going to pay for your flight by the time you add all the different fees and services that are not often displayed up front.

As a result, calculating real airfares has become a complex and difficult task.

One study has revealed that if you look at all the combination of variables on each flight, it could result in as many as 540 different service options.

To make things worse, if you’re flying in one direction on airline A but returning on airline B, the variations increase to almost 6,500 possibilities. It’s crazy.

Bottom line: these ancillary fees have created confusion and pricing uncertainty.

But one thing is certain.

For most of us booking a flight, we should take the initial fare quoted and multiply it by one and a half.

By the time we’re finished, that is, at a minimum, what we’re really going to pay.

At least it will help you more easily budget your next trip.

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