Have you ever looked closely at the fee breakdown on your airline ticket? Most of us don’t, but if you have, you’ve probably noticed an often hefty “carrier fee” or “carrier-imposed fee” included on international tickets.
Fees like transportation taxes, facility charges and security fees are pretty self-explanatory, but the carrier fee is a bit of an unknown to most travelers. And that’s no accident. As Charles Leocha, founder of Travelers United, a consumer-advocacy group, told Bloomberg in regards to these fees, “The airlines have been very careful to shroud everything in as much mystery as possible.”
Business Insider decided to get to the bottom of these so-called “hidden fees” to help us all understand what we’re paying for when we book our next flight across the pond, over the border or around the world.
These hidden fees can be used, according to Josh Freed, a spokesperson for American Airlines, to cover “almost every expense the airline has.” These fees can sometimes be as high as a whopping $650 one-way for an international flight, as Business Insider notes is the case for Delta.
One of those hidden fees might be the fuel surcharge. Ever since the 2012 Department of Transportation ruling that told airlines to charge passengers “a reasonable estimate of the per-passenger fuel costs incurred by the carrier,” carriers have all but deleted the fuel surcharge line on passengers’ tickets. Instead, the fuel surcharge could be wrapped up in the carrier fee, keeping passengers in the dark as to how much they’re paying for fuel when they fly.
It should be noted that not every international flight or carrier imposes this carrier fee. While Business Insider found that the average fee tends to be about $250, they also found flights on United Airlines and Cathay Pacific with no carrier fee at all.
As a passenger, should you be paying closer attention to carrier fees if you’re concerned about your total spend? Not necessarily. It doesn’t hurt to be aware of them, but as Freed told Business Insider, “What goes into that [fee] for customers doesn’t really matter because the competition happens at the cost-of-the-ticket level.” So regardless of how the airline is getting to the final ticket price, there’s a pretty good chance they’re pricing their fares competitively.
[h/t: Business Insider]