Much to the immense distress of travelers, airlines around the world are binging on add-on fees.
Worldwide airline fees rose 11% in 2012 to $36.1 billion, according to an estimate by Amadeus and Ideaworks.
If you're expecting 2013 will provide relief from these pesky add-on fees, banish the thought.
Travelers should grit their teeth and steel themselves for more creative fees that airlines will unleash upon them.
Even airlines like Southwest that traditionally have touted fewer fees are hopping on the add-on bandwagon with stuff like early boarding fees.
Travelers, particularly those traveling with families, need to be extra alert while booking flights to avoid big hits on these fees.
Worse, these detested add-on fees are increasingly getting confusing hampering travelers' ability to do price comparison.
And the airlines' favorite trick to complicate price comparison is to bundle and tier services.
A recent study by airline fees comparison tool provider TravelNerd found that U.S. airlines changed 52 different fees since January 2012.
* 36 out of the 52 fee changes are direct fee increases, with the rest mostly a result of:
* Bundling / unbundling of fees (for instance, instituting one fee for priority boarding and seating or instituting two separate fees for priority boarding and seating that were previously bundled into one fee)
* Increasing fee price ranges (e.g. Spirit changed its premium seat fees from $25-$75 to $12-$199)
* Redefining fee policies (e.g. Allegiant kept the same fee price of $50 for overweight bags 51-70 pounds but changed the fee policy to apply for bags 41-70 pounds)
* 28 out of the 52 fee changes are related to baggage fees, 19 changes are related to service fees, and five are related to in-flight fees
* Notwithstanding Spirit’s notorious $100 per carry-on bag fee, the majority of fee increases were in the $5-$10 range
* Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, ultra low cost carriers infamous for charging fees, are responsible for 18 out the 52 fee changes
* Harried travelers got a slim ray of hope from United Airlines, which reduced its overweight bag fees from $200 to $100 for bags 51-70 pounds and from $400 to $200 for bags 71-100 pounds