How to Outsmart Airlines at the Fee Game

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Fees for carry-ons and picking a seat? Enough’s enough: It’s time to fight back.

There’s no offender worse than Spirit Airlines, which has about 70 discrete fees and is one of the most profitable carriers. If you can dodge their fees, you can probably dodge anybody’s — so here are some of The Wall Street Journal’s tips to do just that:

  • Forget roller bags. “Spirit charges $30 to $100 for checked and carry-on bags, depending when the bags are paid for,” the WSJ says. Make it to the gate with a carry-on bag that won’t fit under your seat and you could be out $100. But backpacks and smaller duffel bags are more easily crammed into the space — and the bins used to measure bags, should an agent ask to measure it.
  • Wear extra layers. Come to the airport lightly clothed, and if your bag weighs a bit too much or won’t quite squeeze into the space, you can pull out the thicker and heavier clothes and put them on over what you’re wearing.
  • Double-bag. Spirit’s picky about the “one personal item” rule, and can charge fliers an extra $100 for something as small as a pocketbook, the WSJ says. So place your little bag (or bags) in the bigger one.
  • Bring water or ask for ice. Spirit Airlines even charges for water, so bring an empty bottle through security and use a water fountain to fill it up. “If you forget a bottle, order a glass of ice—which is the one free thing on board—and wait for it to melt,” the WSJ says.
  • Sit where you’re told. If you pick seats on a Spirit flight, no matter how lousy the location, you’ll pay extra. Not so if the airline assigns them, and they usually put people who book together next to each other.

Airlines aren’t the only ones charging for ridiculous things. Check out the video below for tricks to beat other insulting fees:

What’s your favorite trick to avoid fees? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

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