The airline industry has never been under more pressure to scrap its rip-off ‘junk fees’ after the President pledged a crackdown on the practice that squeezes $5.3 billion out of passengers every year.
Overweight luggage fines, seat selection charges and fees for printing boarding passes are all among the cynical tricks used by firms.
‘We will prohibit airlines from charging up to $50 roundtrip for families just to sit together,’ Biden announced during his State of the Union address last month.
It comes as Frontier Airlines was forced to reveal it gives staff $10 bonuses every time they succeed in charging customers extra if their carry-on luggage is too big.
Passengers were forced to fork out $5.3 billion in baggage fees alone last year, according to figures from the Transport Department. Meanwhile aviation firms raked in a further $700 million in cancellation and flight change charges.
Here Dailymail.com takes a look at the worst ways greedy airlines rack up the cost of your family holiday…
MISLEADING ADVERTISED PRICE
A key part of Biden’s plan is to look at the ways airlines and booking site add on extra charges beyond the advertised price.
Customers are often promised a headline sum for a flight only to find the true cost is hundreds of dollars more expensive due to additional fees such as luggage.
And the costs can rise with every piece of luggage the passenger wants to take.
To make the issue even more confusing, there is little consistency between airlines with the cost of baggage varying wildly.
For example, American Airlines charges $30 for the first bag for a passenger on a domestic flight. However this rises to $200 for bag number four.
Meanwhile JetBlue charges $35 for the first bag, $45 for a second and $150 for the third.
There is little consistency between airlines with the cost of baggage varying wildly
OVERSIZED CARRY-ON FINES
Most airlines offer one free carry-on item, which some customers use as their sole luggage for a short trip.
However a decade ago many started to slap fines on passengers whose carry-on exceeds requirements and cannot be slotted into the cabin hold.
The fine covers the cost of placing the bag into storage along with the other paid-for suitcases.
But consumers have long been suspicious that staff enforce the rules too strictly and often fine passengers whose bags would easily fit in the requirements.
Reports that Frontier Airlines staff are given a bonus of $10 for every piece of overweight luggage they find and identify appeared to confirm these suspicions.
The firm said it was to ensure its policies were upheld.
Meanwhile JetBlue hit headlines for sneakily changing its luggage costs – and applying them to customers who had already booked.
And it was recently revealed that some crafty customers are resorting to having their luggage shipped after learning it was cheaper than extortionate airline fees.
Tiktok star Faith Collins saved $110 by implementing the hack.
Faith Collins went viral after revealing it was cheaper to ship her items rather than pay for airline luggage
At the end of the video, the bargain hunter revealed that it cost just $34.33 to send the box, saving herself more than $100 when compared to check-in luggage fees
Priority boarding puts customers first-in-line to get on the plane and get settled.
But it has become big business for cynical firms.
Again prices vary between firms, with Frontier Airlines charging between $6-$12 while American Airlines commands an eye-watering fee of up to $74.
Jet Blue priority boarding fares begin at $10.
SNEAKY ADMIN FEES
Booking over the phone, having your boarding pass printed out and web check-ins are among the most banal tasks that firms charge customers for.
On its website Frontier says it will charge passengers $5 just to check-in online.
And it will land customers with a $35 fee to those who book through its chat agent booking service.
Meanwhile Spirit Airlines asks its customers to pay $25 if they need their boarding pass printed during an in-person check-in. JetBlue passengers can expect to pay $25 just to make a reservation over the phone or via livechat.
The firm says this can be avoided by booking online.
Frontier says it will charge a passenger $5 just to check-in online while customers who book through its chat service are charged $35
One of the most contentious hidden travel fee impacts customers who wish to change the details of their trip.
Just getting a name changed on a plane ticket can attract hefty sums.
Spirit Airlines charges $40 for the inconvenience while Frontier Airlines and JetBlue both dish out $75 fees to customers.
And cancelling a trip altogether can be an even bigger financial headache.
American Airlines customers must shell out $200 for cancellations on a domestic flight and $750 for international flights.
What’s more, customers often find it near-on impossible to have their flights refunded – even when they have bought extra refund policies.
During the pandemic airlines were forced to cancel flights in record numbers yet many customers struggled to obtain refunds.
The issue was so contentious the US Department of Transport was flooded with more than 90,000 complaints about airlines between March 2020 and May 2021.
‘I will tell you that I have never seen a single issue generate so much consumer anger,’ aviation advisor Bill McGee, aviation adviser said at the time.