The Consummate Traveler –The Adventures of Hidden Airline Fees

March 17, 2015 Updated: March 17, 2015

You know the old saying, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is? That is precisely how I felt about the economical airline ticket I had purchased online at TRAVELOCITY.COM several weeks ago for a mini vacation I took after my last business trip. It turns out that the 76 USD one way ticket from Athens to Rome I had purchased was missing one crucial component that I did not know about until the day of my flight.

In this instance, the perplexing vortex of “hidden” airline fees struck me when my friendly Aegean Airline worker that was checking me in asked if I would be paying the baggage fee of 35 Euros via cash or credit. Taken aback by her statement, I asked her to explain why I had to pay this fee? She clarified that the type of ticket I had purchased online was considered to be a super discounted “Go Light” seat with no bag allowance, and a 35 Euro surcharge was now due. However, if I had purchased this baggage allowance online with my ticket, it would have been only 20 Euros.

As I was begrudgingly taking my credit card out to pay, I asked her why I had not been aware of this fact when I purchased my ticket. She half-jokingly said that it is typical for passengers to be caught by surprise on this point because it is not always clearly disclosed on all the travel websites. That is the understatement of the year. I went back to check my reservation confirmation that had been e-mailed to me, and I wasn’t able to see anything mentioned about this.

After this experience, I performed another airfare search using the website FARECOMPARE.COM for the same itinerary that I took just to see if I could find any evidence of this fee. The search I did gave me three travel websites to compare prices on which were Travelocity, Expedia, and CheapOAir. Of all three websites, only Expedia had a very clear and detailed breakout of all the fees. In fact, so did TRAVELOCITY.COM where I had originally purchased my ticket. However, I had not expanded the ticket details button when I bought my ticket to read all of the fine print. An important lesson learned no doubt.

My final parting word of advice is to take your time when shopping for airfare online and be sure to understand the details of any super cheap tickets you are contemplating.

As always, I wish you the happiest of travels!

*Image of a young female passenger at the airport via Shutterstock