Which Budget Airlines Have the Most ‘Hidden’ Fees?

Think before you book: Budget airlines might put a quick Eurotrip within reach, but those low fares often come with hefty fees and extra costs.

A new analysis published by TradingPedia analyzed several airlines that service the U.K. to determine if low-cost carriers really are the most affordable option after extra fees are taken into consideration. These include charges for carry-on bags, checked bags, seat selection, convenience fees for online bookings, and more.

“To be fair, these fees are not exactly hidden on the websites of the airlines — they are fully disclosed on each screen while you are making an online booking. However, they are not added to the final cost of the fare in advertisements and special offers, and do not become clear until the actual process of booking the flight is completed,” per a blog post published by TradingPedia.

Popular budget airline Ryanair topped the list for highest fees, with potential charges upwards of $270 for travelers that fly with the Irish airline. For example, Ryanair allows passengers to bring a small personal bag that fits under the seat in front of them for free, but charges for anything larger than that.

Beyond Ryanair, the study found that Spain’s Vueling had the second highest hidden fees, with up to $262 in extra charges. In third place ranked Hungary-based Wizz Air with up to $241 in extra costs, and the U.K’s easyJet, with up to $227 in extra fees.

Major carrier British Airways doesn’t charge for things like carry-on bags, but the airline does charge certain ticket holders for a checked bag or advance seat selection, bringing the total extra fees up to $87, according to the TradingPedia study. British airline Jet2 had the lowest potential hidden fees, maxing out at up to just $82.

In the United States, many airlines have largely done away with change fees, but still often charge extra for conveniences like checked luggage and sometimes even carry-on luggage. According to NerdWallet, U.S. airlines with the worst fees are Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

The Biden administration is pushing to eliminate hidden fees and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a rule that would require airlines and others “to show the full price of a plane ticket up front, including baggage and other fees,” according to the White House.

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