Flying Fees: The Canadian Traveller’s Guide to Excess Airline Charges

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Flight Network Airline Fees
Your essential guide to excess airline fees for Canadian travellers.

Fees, fees, fees! Excess airlines fees are, at times, the bane of the 21st century Canadian traveller. What was free in recent memory — checked baggage — is now a commonplace Prix Fixe. But perhaps more confusing than the costs themselves is trying to navigate each respective airline’s fee schedule.

We all know that international flights lavish patrons with free hot meals, wine and complimentary snacks — amenities also often given to Domestic/US First Class flyers — but what about the rest of us back there in Domestic/US Coach? Do you know which airline charges up to $109 per flight for advance seat selection? Do you know which airlines allow unaccompanied minors to fly at no extra charge? Do you know which airlines have done away with complimentary peanuts? And most important of all — do you know which airlines charge $25 for your first checked bag, and which allow you check two for free?

Read on to find the fee breakdowns for Canada’s 11 most popular airlines

Airline 1st  Checked  Bag 2nd  Checked  Bag Oversized  Bag Pet  Travel Beer/ Wine/ Spirits Snack/ Meal
Advanced  Seat  Selection UNMR
Westjet Free Free
$40-$75 $50 $6.50 Free-$6.50 $3-$15 Free
Air Canada Free Free  (CAN)  $30 (US) $75-$100 $105-$270 $6-$7 $3-$7 $3-$25 $100
Air Transat Free Free $20 per kg $100-$250 $5 $2-$3 $15-$20 Free
Porter Airlines Free Free $5 per kg N/A Free Free Free $100
Canadian North Free Free $50 $100 $6 Free Free $40
Delta Air Lines* $25 $35 $90-$175 $150 $5-$7 Free-$8 $5-$25 $100
United Airlines* $20 $30 $125-$175 $175 $6 $6-$7 $14-$109 $99-$150
Alaska Airlines* $15 $25 $50-$75 $100 $6 $6 Free $75
Continental Airlines* $20 $30 $50-$150 $125 $6-$9 Free Free $75-$100
American Airlines* $25 $35 $50-$150 $100-$150 $6-$7 $3.29-$10 Free $100
US Airways* $20 $30 $125-$175 $100 $7-$8 $3-$7 $5-$30 $100

(UNMR: Unaccompanied Minor)

*Price listed in US Dollars

Considering that, in the US alone, airlines earned $2.1 billion from fees in the second quarter of 2010, it seems obvious that airline fees are here to stay. Some airlines are always finding new fees to charge too — such as “Fee Pioneer” Ryanair, in Ireland, which is considering fees for using the restroom or for carry-on baggage. Seems crazy? Remember: checked baggage fees seemed crazy once, too. In fact, the only thing you can be sure to get free these days is a glass of soda. (Tip: don’t be afraid to ask for the whole can.)

Airline travel, as with everything else, requires diligent consumer watch. In fact, one can take advantage of these fees too. For example: if you won’t require checked baggage, an in-flight snack, advanced seat selection or space for your pet cat — well, these fees won’t really matter to you, will they? You can buy the cheapest fare with confidence. Conversely, if you are shipping your 10-year-old son on his first solo flight, you’ll need to consider that Westjet and Air Transat are the only airlines on our list that will escort him at no extra charge. The key for you, the traveller, is to consider which excess airline fees may apply to you — and which you can avoid — when comparing the different airline fares on Flight Network.

So use Flight Network to shop and compare — and shop and fly with care!

By David Webb

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