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These 5 U.S. Airlines Have The Most Hidden Fees

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Airlines are notorious for having hidden fees that add exorbitant costs to what may seem at first glance like a good deal on airfare.

These hidden fees can come in the form of baggage fees, seat selection fees, and more that cause that “great price” of just $100 for round-trip airfare to suddenly total $200+.

Travelers looking out window at airport

Budget airlines tend to have the most hidden fees in order to advertise rock-bottom base fares. But if you want to bring more than a small backpack or choose where you get to sit, you’ll have to pay up.

Here are the U.S. airlines with the most hidden fees:

1. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines has the dubious distinction of being the world’s most disliked airline, so it’s no surprise that it is also the airline with the most hidden fees.

According to Spirit’s optional services page, choosing a standard seat on your flight can cost you an additional $1 to $200. Reserving a “Big Front Seat” (Spirit’s answer to premium cabin seating) will cost you $12 to $750 in advance.

Spirit Airlines plane

Spirit also charges for carry-on luggage and checked luggage.

The average cost for a carry-on bag or a checked suitcase is $40 to $80, depending on when you pay for it and the weight of the bag. The longer you wait, the higher the cost is.

These hidden fees mean that your total airfare can end up costing $280+, giving Spirit Airlines the title for most hidden fees.

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Spirit Airlines gate

2. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines is also featured in the world’s most disliked airlines list, and unsurprisingly, this budget airline is notorious for charging hidden fees.

A checked bag on Frontier will cost you $15 to $75 (depending on when you pay to check it, with a last-minute booking carrying the highest cost), while a carry-on bag will cost you $30 to $60 depending on when you pay for it.

Frontier Airlines

Additionally, Frontier charges $6 to $60+ to choose a seat. Again, the price depends on when you pay for this add-on, as well as which seat you are choosing.

In total, these fees can add up to an additional $195+, making Frontier another one of the worst airlines for hidden fees.

3. American Airlines

American Airlines doesn’t charge for a carry-on bag (travelers get one personal item and one carry-on bag for free), but they do have higher-than-average seat selection fees.

American Airlines Plane on runway

These can work out to be as much as $15 to $20 extra just for selecting a standard seat in the main cabin.

Additionally, American charges $30 for your first checked bag. While this is pretty standard (as you’ll see from the airlines below), the higher-than-average seat fees on American mean that this airline is in the top three for most hidden fees

4. Delta Air Lines

Next up on the list of airlines with the most hidden fees is Delta Air Lines.

Delta Air Lines plane

Delta consistently ranks as the best airline in the United States due to its good customer service, low rate of delays and cancellations, and overall flying experience.

The airline does have some hidden fees though.

Checking a bag will cost you $30, and selecting a seat can cost around $15.

5. United Airlines

Finally, United Airlines has relatively high fees for travelers.

United Airlines plane

Seat selection fees average $5 to $10, and checking a bag will cost you $30, although your personal item and carry-on bag are free.

Along with American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, passengers on United Airlines can actually avoid checked baggage fees in many cases, such as by earning loyalty status with the airline or getting an airline co-branded credit card.

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