The Investigators: Spring BROKE! - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Spring BROKE!

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By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - What the airlines don't tell you about their fees can hurt you.

Right smack in the purse, pocketbook or wallet.

The pain begins...with fuel surcharges.

Christopher Elliott, consumer advocate and the Travel Troubleshooter (http://www.elliott.org/), said rising oil prices will drive airfare up 20-25 percent for Spring and Summer travel. He said an average $50 of every plane ticket goes straight to jet fuel.

"It's cheaper to drive than it is to fly," said West Memphis, AR, native Geree Thomas, waiting for a flight back home to Philadelphia. "You know, with the tickets and the bags."

Ah, the bags.

At least one airline, Spirit, is charging not only checked luggage fees, but also a $20 to $45 fee for carry-on bags stored in the overhead bins.

The InterContinental Hotels Group wants to help with luggage fees. They'll reimburse your luggage fees if you book a weekend stay before May at a Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza or any of IHG's 4,500 hotels (www.ihg.com/freebag).

"They'll reimburse you for up to $100 for your checked luggage fees on a weekend stay," said Elliott.

Vicki Rush, CEO of A&I Travel Service, Inc., in East Memphis (http://www.aitvl.com/), said one of the worst hidden airline fees is a seat assignment fee.

If you book airfare online, and then the airline overbooks the flight, she said the airline can charge you an extra fee -- as much as $19 -- to guarantee the seat you already reserved.

"It's irritating, but that's a good deal as opposed to being denied boarding," Rush said. "If you make the reservation and you immediately go to the seat map, and there's not a seat available, before you hit "buy," that's a decision you need to make."

Before you make any decision, check first with the airline's website. Look for a tab that says "travel information" or "fees" or "additional products/services/fees." That's where the airline typically posts its service fees, like $5 for seconds on snacks or $2 headsets.

Rush recommends farecompare.com's domestic fee chart:  http://www.farecompare.com/how-to-shop/domestic-fee-chart.html. It's a one-stop shop to compare each airline's hidden fees.

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