How much will that pillow cost you? A guide to airline fees

As if the basic idea of being in a thin, metal tube 35,000 feet above the earth wasn’t enough, the airlines seem to have gone out of their way to make flying about as miserable as possible.

To add insult to injury, flying these days means your wallet suffers a slow death by paper cuts — seemingly everything in, on and around an airplane has a fee attached.

I have to get on a plane tomorrow and I was curious how much things have changed in the year or so since I last flew anywhere — do I have to buy my meals? What about a pillow or blanket? And what if I want to make a last minute change to my return flight, will that require the blood of my first born?

In trying to answer such questions I stumbled across this handy chart of various airline fees over at the USAToday (I know, I know, but this is useful, trust me). Regrettably the chart only lists domestic US carriers, but it’s a lot of info in one place (regular readers may recall a similar, though less thorough chart, over at

Turns out Frontier, Southwest and Spirit don’t even offer pillows or blankets anymore and Allegiant (never heard of it) will actually charge you $7 for a pillow and $15 for a blanket. Seriously.

Continental and Delta’s international flights are the only place you can expect a meal for free, and that fabled wifi in the skies you’ve heard so much about? That’ll set you back around $13 (except for JetBlue which, shockingly, gives it away for free).

The short story of the various fee charts is that flying has turned into a way for the airline companies to pilfer your pockets at nearly every turn.

Hopefully the USA Today will keep the chart thing up-to-date since new fees seem to appear every few days, but if not, you can always check your airline’s website.

And if anyone knows of a similar list for international airlines, let us know about it in the comments.

[photo credit, Laurel Fan, Flickr]

Posted by | Comments (4)  | June 23, 2009
Category: General

4 Responses to “How much will that pillow cost you? A guide to airline fees”

  1. Liv Says:

    I flew American Airlines last weekend and the fees I encountered included:

    $15 to check in a bag
    $7.95 for wifi in the terminal
    $3-4 for snacks

    No pillows. No blankets. No TV. No earphones.

    My Irish boyfriend complains that Ryan Air is the same. But at least they charge in the tens of Euro for an international flight.

  2. Bob Holdsworth Says:

    While I am sympathetic to this as I fly a lot, I have one concern – take off and land safely. Save the peanuts, movies, water, charge me for any amenity – just take off and land. I would even pay to use the toilet. Unless you are in business or first, it’s a cattle car. The days of flying and service are gone. Now it’s get on, walk off and the flight was awesome.

  3. Says:

    It’s too bad that the airlines “nickel and dime” you for everything. If people are really upset by all of these fees, they can stop traveling via the airlines. Take a cruise or a road trip. The other alternative is to “boycott” the airlines or just suck it up and pay the fees.

  4. Nomadic Matt Says:

    I flew American from London to Boston and I got a free meal. Internal meals are still free!