Booking cheap flights have never been easier. Airlines are locked in a fierce battle to gain market share, especially in the current economic climate. However, cheap flights still have a number of hidden fees and taxes that could significantly raise costs. Extra charges, including baggage check costs and booking fees might blow your travel budget before you have even left your house.
One of the culprits that could make a cheap flight much more expensive is checking in extra luggage, or in some cases, any luggage. Many major airlines, especially in the United State, charge for checking in luggage. If you exceed airline requirements in terms of weight, expect to pay exorbitant amounts. Reasons given by airlines for excess baggage costs include the cost of jet fuel and weight restrictions in the cargo hold. One way to avoid paying baggage costs is to pack one carry-on bag for the entire trip. It is a good idea, however, to check with the airline before you travel to ensure that weight and size restrictions can be met.
Airport taxes are another culprit that could add more than a few rands to your cheap flight. The bulk of airport taxes are actually an unrestricted fee called a fuel levy. The fuel levy is one of the ways in which full services carriers promote cheap flights. It is linked to the rand/dollar exchange rate because fuel is billed in dollars. The airline may then decide how much extra is charged as part of the fuel levy, seeing as it comprises a large part of the business’ cost base.
To avoid any nasty surprises on holiday, it is worthwhile doing a bit of research beforehand and carefully reading the fine print. Otherwise, a cheap flight can easily turn into terrible headache.