Travel agent says airline fees piling up

Passengers unload baggage at Columbia Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon. New federal data show travelers paid $1.2 billion in baggage fees between July and September of this year. (Garrett Bergquist/KRCG 13)

A local travel agent on Tuesday said travelers should read the fine print before they book flights.

Midwest Travel Consultants owner Colleen Taylor said airlines made over $7 billion last year from fees on everything from baggage to seat assignments. She said those fees let airlines tout low-cost tickets.

"It looks like you're getting a very cheap ticket until you need to get seat assignments, pay for carry-on bags, pay for checked bags, pay for food," she said.

Newly-released numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation show airlines collected 10 percent more baggage fee revenue between July and September of this year than they did during the same time last year. Taylor said those numbers don't surprise her. She said this resulted from a combination of increased fees and more travelers.

"It's transparency. It's from people not knowing," she said. "If you don't know about them, it's very upsetting."

Taylor said you should know before you buy your ticket what you do and do not want to pay for. When possible, she said you should work with a local travel agent who can help you navigate those fees. She said this gives you someone you can call if you get into any disputes with the airline.

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